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Full text of "CMH Pub 11-8 The Women's Army Corps"

UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



Special Studies 
THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 

Mattie E. Trcadwdl 




UNITED STATES ARMY 
WASHINGTON, D C, 1991 



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 53-61563 



First Printed 1 954 — CMH Pub 11-8 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents,, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C. 20402 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 




COLONEL OVETA GULP HOBBY 



James P. Baxter 



John D, Hicks 



William T. Hutchinson 
University of Chicago 

S. L. A. Marshall 
Detroit News 



Advisory Committee 

(As of 1 May 1953) 



Brig. Gen. Verdi B. Barnes 
Army War College 

Brig. Gen. Leonard J. Greeley 
Industrial College of the Armed Forces 

Brig. Gen. Elwyn D. Post 



Col. Thomas D. Stamps 



Charles S. Sydnor 
Duke University 



Col. C. E. Beauchamp 
Command and General Staff College 



Charles H. Taylor 
Harvard University 



Office of the Chief of Military History 
Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, Chief* 



Chief Historian 

Chief War Histories Division 

Chief, Editorial and Publication Division 

Chief, Editorial Branch 

Chief, Photographic Branch 



Col, G. G. O'Connor 
Col. B. A. Day 
Joseph R. Friedman 




'. Lawry 



*Maj. Gen. Orlando 1 



V 



. to Those Who Served 



Foreword 



This history of the WAC is comprehensive and detailed. The author has 
written it not only from available records but also out of personal experience. 
She was a WAC staff officer, who, together with all the other Wacs, found her- 
self in a man's army that was somewhat shocked by the advent of a women's 
corps in its midst. 

It is usual for both newcomer and old resident to have suspicions of each 
other, but after the characteristic period of false starts prejudices disappear and 
Confidence is established. So it was with the WAC and the Army. 

This book, stresses the misunderstanding, appropriately enough, since it af- 
fected many decisions reached at the policy-making level. The WAC did not 
always understand the Army — its customs and traditions, its organization and 
necessary chain of command. The Army did not always understand the WAC — 
its needs and temperament, and the many other things that man, being the son of 
woman, should have known but did not, much to his continued embarrassment. 



Washington, D. C. 
30 January 1953 



ORLANDO WARD 
Maj. Gen., U.S.A. 
Chief of Military History 



ix 



The Author 



Mattie E. Treadwell, a native of Texas, holds a B.A. and an M.A. degree 
from the University of Texas. During World War II she was an officer, first in 
the WAAC and later in the WAC, holding such assignments as assistant to the 
Director WAC, assistant to the Air WAC Officer, and assistant to the Com- 
mandant, School of WAC Personnel Administration. She had the additional 
distinction of having been a member of the first class of women sent to the 
Command and General Staff School. While on active duty she attained the 
rank of lieutenant colonel. 

From September 1947 to March 1952 Miss Treadwell was a historian in the 
Office of the Chief of Military History. Upon her departure she became Assist- 
ant Director, Dallas Regional Office, Federal Civil Defense Administration, 
in charge of women's activities and volunteer manpower, an office that she 
currently holds. Her present military status is that of a lieutenant colonel in 
the U.S. Air Force Reserve. 



Washington, D. C. 
30 January 1953 



LEO J. MEYER 

Colonel, Reserve Corps 
Deputy Chief Historian 



x 



Preface 



Soon after the end of hostilities, the decision was made to devote to the 
Women's Army Corps one volume of the Army's major historical series, U.S. 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. Although small by comparison with the size of 
the Army, the WAC at its peak strength of 100,000 constituted an enviably 
large group for study. Because of its 24-hour-a-day control of its personnel, the 
Army had access to information not easily obtainable by business or industry, 
concerning not only the women's job efficiency but their clothing and housing 
needs, and the effects of their employment upon their health, conduct, morale, 
and recreation. 

For most of the war months, the potential importance of this material was 
not recognized, and little systematic effort was made to collect it. A number of 
Army commands had rulings against the collection of separate statistics for 
women, while others lacked either the time or the means to compile such 
material. 

In postwar days, with renewed emphasis upon future planning, the present 
study was authorized in an attempt to pull together such evidence as remained. 
It was recognized that the experience of the relatively small group in World 
War II might provide a guide to any later and more extensive national mobili- 
zation of womanpower that might be necessary. Although no one possessed 
sufficient clairvoyance to predict the course of history, it was plainly evident 
that, in any future emergencies, the proper mobilization and employment of 
womanpower reserves might become a primary national issue. 

The preservation of the wartime discoveries made in this field assumed 
added importance in view of the fact that no other American or British service 
has yet published a full official history of its women's corps. Significantly, com- 
parison of the records of these groups reveals that the problems and achieve- 
ments of each fall into a pattern so similar as to suggest a strong measure of 
predictability of the course of future groups. The Navy Department's draft 
narrative of the WAVES remains under classification, as do those of the Women 
Marines and the Army Nurse Corps. The story of the Air Forces women is 
included in the present volume, since the wartime Air Wacs were a part of 
the WAC. 

The Army's discoveries in general appear valid and reliable, not only for 
militarized groups, but for most nonmilitary institutions or businesses which 
train or employ women. The observations on health, fatigue, accident rates, 
and psychological patterns should be a useful addition to current industrial 
studies. The discoveries in the fields of training, housing, clothing, feeding, and 



XI 



disciplining groups of women may present a fresh viewpoint to educational in- 
stitutions. In particular, the conclusions on the leadership of women offer a clue 
to an explanation of the current misunderstandings and contradictory impres- 
sions on the subject. 

It must be recognized at the outset that the problem of integrating women 
into an army was merely a part of the larger problem of their evolving status in 
civil life, accelerated by the industrial revolution and affecting every phase of 
modern society. Although the scope of this volume does not permit frequent 
comment upon the general place of women in society, few of the developments 
were without precedent. This was particularly true of the public skepticism and 
masculine hostility into which the WAC ran headlong in its first year. Admit- 
tedly, the Army had its share of a conservative element that had scarcely 
recovered from the shock of the mechanized horse when confronted with the 
militarized woman. 

It should also be noted that the development and integration into the Army 
of a women's corps was at every turn a part of the larger development of the 
Army, and that few problems of the smaller group were unique. The Women's 
Army Corps, like this volume, must be viewed in perspective as one small facet 
of the larger entity. 

While parallel, the problems of the employment of men and women were 
by no means identical in nature or solution. At the time of the organization of 
the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps early in World War II, the misapprehen- 
sion was general that women could be treated exactly like men and that little 
research would therefore be required for the successful incorporation of woman- 
power into the Army. Some believed that the WAC, as a minor group within 
the Army, was in the same general category as other groups dubbed minorities 
by reason of race, creed, or color, for whom differences of treatment would be 
improper. In practice it was soon discovered, however, that while a soldier 
might wear the same design of clothing regardless of race or creed, the same 
could not be said regardless of sex. The same principle was shortly found true 
in the fields of medicine, conduct, recreation, recruiting, physical capacity, and 
others. While all authorities were agreed that equal treatment must be given to 
men and women in the Army, it was soon apparent that equal did not mean 
identical in every case. The Army was thus faced with the problem of what styles 
of garments, though not identical with those of men, gave equal comfort, fit, and 
military appearance; what medications and surgery, although not identical, 
promoted equally good health; what standards of conduct, well-being, recrea- 
tion, and training would enable the military service to answer to the American 
public for the women in its keeping as conscientiously as it customarily did for 
the men. In most cases, by the end of the war, these problems were successfully 
solved or the key to the solution was known. 

As the following pages will reveal, the final conclusions of the wartime 
heads of the women's services were far from optimistic concerning the dangers 
of employing women in the armed forces if their special needs were not con- 
stantly understood and dealt with by trained specialists and well-informed 
commanders. 



xii 



Several major decisions concerning the scope and nature of this volume 
were dictated by the wide range of subjects it must cover, by the fact that its 
material was scattered through world-wide Army commands, and by the fact 
that only one writer-researcher could be assigned to the task. One such decision 
was that the approach must generally be on the level of policy and planning, 
rather than upon that of individual unit histories and statistics. Army com- 
mands employing Wacs activated and inactivated hundreds of companies, and 
sent thousands of women back and forth among them individually and in small 
groups, to an extent that would have required another volume to record. 
Even could statistics be included upon the locations and movements of such 
personnel, the significance for future planning would be small. 

However, in the interests of proper emphasis and perspective, it should be 
noted that an account at this high level is not necessarily a complete picture of 
the Corps. The efficiency of a WAC unit in the field was often relatively un- 
touched by the struggles concerning the nation's womanpower which raged 
over its head. A WAC unit could, and often did, exist happily for months with- 
out proper uniforms, training, or other advantages, no matter how distressing 
to the War Department such deficiencies might be, 

A generally more unworried tone could be given this volume only if it were 
possible to place in a row, beside the headaches of headquarters, the approxi- 
mately five hundred separate stories of field achievement, which by sheer 
weight would reduce the policy and planning problems to their proper 
proportion. 

Another decision which affected the nature of the history was that it should 
include all possible material of assistance to future planners. A considerably 
shorter volume could have been produced by a rapid account of the Corps' 
formation, strength, employment, and achievements, with no indication of its 
problems, the private controversies they engendered, or the means by which 
they were surmounted. However, for those specialists whose assigned mission is 
the efficient employment of womanpower, or even for the general Army reader, 
such a surface analysis would have been of small value. 

In preparing this volume, I have had the advice of almost all of the war- 
time leaders, men and women, of the Women's Army Corps, Col. Oveta Culp 
Hobby has not only commented upon the manuscript, but has answered spe- 
cific questions and has given me generously of her time in discussing puzzling 
references. Lt. Col. Helen Hamilton Woods, WAAC preplanner and later 
Deputy Director, read and reread various drafts, and opened her Washington 
home to me for interviews with prominent participants including Congress- 
woman Edith Nourse Rogers. Dr. Betty Bandel has submitted a detailed com- 
mentary on each chapter in its draft form, and has answered innumerable 
questions concerning the 40,000 Air Forces women, whom she represented, and 
the Corps as a whole, of which she was Acting Deputy. Lt. Col. Katherine R. 
Goodwin has clarified many points regarding the Army Service Forces Wacs, 
for which she was advisor. Before her death, Dr. Jess Rice, the wartime Deputy 
Director, commented upon early parts of the manuscript and gave me many 



xiii 



admonitions concerning historical technique, which I have endeavored to fol- 
low, as well as strictures against making her a heroine of the story, which I have 
endeavored to ignore in the interests of historical accuracy. 

Gen. George C. Marshall has read and commented upon various passages, 
appealing on one occasion to the former Director to know if she had actually 
encountered all of the recruiting difficulties described.* Maj. Gen. Miller G. 
White, the Army man who, as G-l of the War Department, worked most 
closely with WAC policy, has read all of the manuscript and added comments 
and excerpts from his diary. The Auxiliary Corps portion has been commented 
upon by, among others, Maj. Gen. John H. Hilldring, Brig. Gens. Don C. Faith 
and Thomas B. Catron, and Cols. Harold Tasker and Gilman Mudgett. 

To the hundreds of other Army men and women — from general officer to 
private — who have given me their opinions — each chapter will make proper 
acknowledgment. 

Within the Office of the Chief of Military History, I have received great 
assistance from the Chief Historian, Dr. Kent R. Greenfield, the Deputy Chief 
Historian, Lt. Col. Leo J. Meyer, and their entire staff, whose aid will be par- 
ticularly acknowledged in the chapters concerned. Dr. Mae Link has contribu- 
ted valuable research on the Army Service Forces, and Maj. Margaret Bacchus 
on the British services. For typing and preparing the manuscript I am indebted 
to Sgt. Amelia Madrak, Mrs. Lorraine Bonifant, Mrs. Lois Riley, and Mrs. 
Elizabeth Phillips and her staff. 

My particular aid and counsel has been Miss Ruth Stout, the editor of this 
volume, who has provided much-needed help and encouragement as well as 
perspective, advice, and good judgment. We are both grateful to the Chief 
Editor, Mr. Joseph R. Friedman, for his sympathetic interest and advice, and to 
Mr. Allen R. Clark for care and precision in copy editing. I am also indebted to 
Mr. Clark for the comprehensive index. The work of selecting illustrations has 
been performed by Miss Margaret E. Tackley, who lent the project not only her 
technical skill but her experience as a wartime officer of the WAC, thereby 
avoiding the errors common to inexperienced judges of WAC photographs. 

Credit for the successful planning and launching of the project belongs to 
the early staff of the Army's Historical Division, especially Col. Allen F. Clark, 
Col. John M. Kemper, Col. Allison R. Hartman, and the first Chief Historian 
of the Army, the late Dr. Walter L. Wright, Jr. And finally, the broad and con- 
structive criticism, based on years of military experience, offered by Maj. Gen. 
Orlando Ward, Chief of Military History during the last months of the vol- 
ume's preparation, was of great assistance in completing the work. 

Washington, D. C. MATTIE E. TREADWELL 

15 April 1953 



*Her answer: "No, more." 



xiv 



Contents 



PART ONE 

Organization and Growth of a Women's Corps 



Chapter Page 

I. FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 3 

Total War and the Industrial Revolution 4 

The Army Nurse Corps 5 

World War I 6 

Twenty-three Years of Peace 10 

Plans for a Women's Service Corps 12 

The Hughes Plan 13 

The Approach of World War II 15 

H. R. 4906 18 

II. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 24 

The Appointment of WAAC Pre-Planners 25 

Selection of a Director 28 

Organization of Director's Headquarters 30 

Assignment to Services of Supply 31 

The British Parallel 32 

Recruiting Plans 34 

Search for a Training Center 35 

The Uniform 36 

Housing Plans 39 

Allocation of Units 41 

WAAC Regulations 42 

Passage of WAAC Bill 44 

III. THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 46 

The Press 46 

Establishment of WAAC Headquarters 49 

Location in the Services of Supply 50 

Director's Schedule 51 

Operating Duties 52 

Selection of the First Officer Candidates 54 

Screening of Applicants 55 

Special Groups of Candidates 58 

The First WAAC Training Center 59 

Expansion Plans, Summer of 1942 61 



xv 



Chapter Page 

III. THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER— Continued 

The First WAAC Officer Candidate Class, 20 July-29 August 1942 . . 63 

The Training Course 66 

Graduation 71 

IV. SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 1942; BEGINNINGS OF FIELD 

DUTIES 73 

New Graduating Classes 75 

The Second WAAC Training Center 77 

Aircraft Warning Service Units 78 

Appeals for Publication of Command Channels 82 

New Expansion Plans 84 

General Marshall's Intervention 85 

Assignment of Regional Directors 88 

Field Action 89 

Director Overseas 91 

V. NOVEMBER 1942-JANUARY 1943: PLANS FOR A MILLION 

WAACS 92 

The Adjutant General's Estimates 92 

Estimates Based on Field Requisitions 93 

Proposals to Draft Women 95 

The Weakness of the Auxiliary System 96 

Proposals for Expansion on Auxiliary Status 97 

The Winter Months 99 

Shipment of the First Post Headquarters Companies 103 

First Overseas Shipment 104 

End of 1942 110 

Indecision as to Planning Goals 110 

VI. THE NEED FOR MILITARY STATUS 113 

Administrative Handicaps of an Auxiliary 113 

The Auxiliary Disciplinary System 115 

Remedial Legislation 117 

Introduction of WAC Bill 118 

VII. SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION. 122 

Expansion Program Decided 122 

Expansion of WAAC Training 126 

Delegation of Command Authority 127 

Inclusion in the Troop Basis 128 

Staff Directors Assigned to New Commands 1 30 

Major Commands Receive Waacs 132 

Readiness for Increase in Number 135 



xvi 



Chapter Page 
VIII. STRESSES OF RAPID BUILD-UP: PERSONNEL AND 

TRAINING 136 

Training Center Confusion 136 

Commissioning of Unqualified Officers 137 

Unsuitable Mentors 139 

The "Nightmare" of Basic Training 140 

Personnel Problems in Headquarters 1 44 

Shipment of TjO Units 146 

Replacement of Soldiers 1 48 

IX. STRESSES OF RAPID BUILD-UP: SUPPLY AND THE WAAC 

UNIFORM 149 

Shortages of Clothing 149 

Appearance of the Uniform 155 

The Need for New Types of Work Clothing 161 

Public Reaction to Unsuitable Uniforms 166 

X. STRESSES OF RAPID BUILD-UP: RECRUITING .... 168 

Danger Signals 170 

Disputes Over Lowering Standards 173 

AGCT Standards 174 

Medical Standards 176 

Moral Standards 178 

Inexpert Sales Methods 179 

Transfer of Responsibility to WAAC Headquarters 181 

The Restoration of Standards 183 

The Advertising Contract 184 

The Revised Campaign 186 

The Cleveland Plan 188 

XI. THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 191 

Record of the WAAC's First Year 191 

Publicity Machinery 193 

Attacks by Private Letter and Gossip 195 

The Civilian Uniforms 198 

The Organized Rumors 200 

War Department Denial 204 

Investigation by Intelligence Service 205 

Investigation at Daytona Beach 208 

Other Investigations 211 

The Question of Axis Influence 214 

Ineffectiveness of Denials 216 



xvii 



Chapter Page 

XII. JULY-SEPTEMBER 1943- THE CONVERSION TO ARMY 

STATUS " " r Y " 219 

The First Wac 220 

The Conversion 221 

First Companies in the WAC 224 

Why Some Went Home 224 

Why the Majority Stayed 228 

The End of the WAAC 229 

XIII. ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 231 

The Search for a Recruiting Theme 231 

The Manpower Theme 232 

The All-States Plan 235 

The Recruiters 236 

Sources of Assistance 237 

The Air-WAC Plan 238 

The Quota 239 

The Campaign 239 

Opposition of the War Manpower Commission 242 

Public Apathy 244 

The Success of the All-States Campaign 245 

Revival of Plans to Draft Women 246 

The Austm-Wadsworth Bill 247 

Army Manpower Crisis 249 

Sudden WAC Popularity 249 

The Job-and-Station Promise 250 

Women-in-War Campaign 254 

Campaign Conclusions 255 

XIV. INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 256 

Abolition of Separate Grades 256 

The Office of the Director WAC 259 

General Impression of Director's Status 262 

First WAC Regulations . 263 

Rights and Benefits of the WAC 265 

Army Advisers Depart 266 

Field Needs After Integration 266 

Close of 1943 268 

XV REMOVAL OF DIRECTOR'S OFFICE TO G-l DIVISION 269 

G— 3 Recommendation 269 

Handicaps on ASF Level 270 

Move to General Staff Authorized 272 

The Meek Report 212 

Corrective Action by the Chief of Staff 274 



xviii 



PART TWO 
World-Wide Employment 



Chapter Page 

XVI. THE ARMY AIR FORCES 281 

Acceptance of Wacs on Airfields 282 

The Air WAC Division 282 

A AF "Firsts" 283 

Flying Jobs for Women 285 

Specialist Training 286 

Conventional Clerical Jobs 289 

Technical Assignments 289 

Officers 293 

Grades and Ratings 293 

Overseas Assignment 294 

Conclusion of Program 294 

XVII. THE ARMY GROUND FORCES 296 

AGF WAC Jobs 299 

Experiment With Mixed Tactical Units 301 

Problems of Full Integration 302 

Effect of Manpower Shortages 304 

XVIII. THE ARMY SERVICE FORCES 307 

The Signal Corps 309 

Chemical Warfare Service 321 

The Corps of Engineers 326 

Ordnance Department 329 

The Quartermaster Corps 329 

The Transportation Corps 331 

The Adjutant GeneraPs Department 336 

Finance Department 337 

Corps of Chaplains 337 

The Provost Marshal's Department 338 

XIX. THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT (ASF) 339 

Female Medical Technicians Campaign 340 

Success of Training 341 

Relative Success in Medical Jobs 341 

Commissioned Duties 344 

Medical and Surgical Technicians 344 

The Hospital Orderly 345 

Request for Survey 347 

Hours of Work 348 

Cessation of Medical Department Recruiting 349 

Wacs vs. Nurses' Aides 352 

TjO Units for General Hospitals 353 

General Hospital Campaign 354 

Conclusions 358 

xix 



Chapter Page 

XX. THE NORTH AFRICAN AND MEDITERRANEAN THEA- 
TERS 360 

Arrival of First Unit 361 

Administrative Difficulties 362 

Further WAC Shipments 364 

Fifth Army Wacs 366 

Headquarters Duties 368 

Degree of Adjustment Required 370 

Health, Discipline, and Morale 371 

Social Association 374 

Other Women's Groups 376 

Demobilization 377 

XXI. THE EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS 380 

First WAAC Separate Battalion 381 

Build-up of Units Prior to D Day 383 

The Move to the Continent 385 

WAC Job Assignments 390 

Officer Assignments 393 

WAC Staff Director's Office 394 

Housing, Supply, and Clothing 395 

Health, Morals, and Discipline 397 

Civilian Competition 400 

Social Association 402 

Policy on Marriage 403 

Public Relations 404 

Posthost'lities Period 406 

Demobilization 406 

Appraisal 408 

XXII. THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 410 

Direct Commissions 413 

Arrival oj WAC Staff 414 

First WAC Contingent in Australia 418 

Arrival in New Guinea 420 

Headquarters Rendered Mobile 422 

Oro Bay 423 

Hollandia 426 

The Philippines 428 

Other Bases 430 

Manila 432 

Job Assignments 433 

The Question of Expense 437 

Medical Evacuation Rate 439 

Deficiencies in Uniform and Supply 440 

Morale 444 



xx 



Chapter Page 
XXII. THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA — Continued 

Length of Working Day 445 

Discipline and Morals 446 

Restrictions on Daily Life 449 

Inferior W AC Commanders 451 

Command oj Enlisted Women by Male Officers 453 

Transfer of Responsibility to W AC Section 455 

War Department Investigation 456 

Demobilization 459 

Conclusion 460 

XXIII. OTHER OVERSEAS THEATERS 463 

Southeast Asia Command 46 3 

The China-Burma— India Theater 464 

The China Theater 47 1 

The Middle East Theater 474 

Other Overseas Areas 478 

Independent Commands Overseas 479 

XXIV. THE OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR WAC 480 

Removal of Operating Duties 481 

Liaison With the? Women's Services 483 

Liaison With the National Civilian Advisory Committee 484 

Liaison With the American Red Cross 485 

Liaison With Other National and Local Organizations 485 

Liaison With Congress 486 

Liaison With Private Citizens 487 



PART THREE 

War Department Policy Concerning the Women's Army Corps 

XXV. LEGAL, SOCIAL, AND MORAL PROBLEMS 495 

Discharge 495 

Discipline 503 

Confinement 505 

Maternity Care 507 

Marriage 510 

The Social Caste System 511 

XXVI. HOUSING, FOOD, AND CLOTHING 515 

Housing 515 

Unit Messes 525 

Clothing 527 



xxi 



Chapter Page 

XXVII. THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL: ENLISTED 

WOMEN 543 

Restrictions on Nonmilitary Assignments 544 

Restrictions on Permanent Kitchen Police Duly 546 

Restrictions on Food Service Assignments 548 

Other Questions of Proper Employment 550 

Results of Enlisted Personnel Policies 559 

XXVIII. THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL: OFFICERS .... 564 

Restrictions on Officer Assignment 564 

Limitations on Further WAC Commissions 566 

The Officers' Pool 567 

Reclassification Proposals 568 

Shortage of WAC Troop Officers 569 

Proposals for an A Corps 571 

Integration of Specialist Officers 573 

The Question of Direct Commissions 574 

Promotion of Officers 574 

Officer Education 577 

Warrant Officers 577 

XXIX. THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL: OVERSEAS SHIP- 
MENT 578 

Medical Screening 580 

Psychiatric Screening 581 

Shipment of Nonvolunteers 582 

Objections to Filling Requisitions 583 

Processing for Shipment 584 

Rotation 587 

Shipment in T jO Units 588 

Effectiveness of Shipment Program 588 

XXX. THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL: MINORITY 

GROUPS 589 

Negro Personnel 589 

Conclusions 601 

XXXI. HEALTH AND MEDICAL CARE 602 

Medical Standards for Enlistment 602 

Rejection and Discharge Rates 607 

Monthly Physical Inspection 608 

Sick Call, Dispensary Care, and Hospitalization 610 

WAC Morbidity Rate 610 

Gynecological Care 611 

Psychiatric Problems 622 

Accidents and Injuries 626 

Weight and Diet 627 

xxii 



Chapter Page 

XXXI. HEALTH AND MEDICAL CARE — Continued 

Fatigue and Health Impairment 627 

Reconditioning 629 

Separation 630 

XXXII. TRAINING 631 

WAC Training Centers 631 

Basic Military Training Courses 634 

Basic Technical Courses 640 

Miscellaneous Courses 646 

WAC Officer Candidate School 648 

Intermediate Officers' School (IOS) 649 

Leadership Courses for Enlisted Women 650 

Testing Procedures 651 

Evaluation oj Effectiveness of Training 651 

Closing of Training Centers 658 

Attendance at Army Specialist Schools 660 

Army Specialized Training Program {ASTP) 661 

Continuation Training in the Field 661 

Opposition of Personnel Officers 662 

Physical Training for Field Units 664 

Personnel vs. Training Needs 666 

XXXIII. THE LEADERSHIP OF WOMEN 669 

Capabilities of the Woman Leader 670 

Efforts To Determine Qualities of Leadership 672 

Sensitivity to Discipline 672 

The Maternalistic Commander 673 

Other Leadership Problems 674 

Problems Peculiar to WAC Leaders 676 

The One Essential Quality 677 

Selection and Training of Leaders 680 

The Army Commander as a Leader of Women Troops 681 

XXXIV. RECRUITING AND PUBLICITY 684 

Recruiting 684 

"Fighting Men and Wacs" 685 

Improvement of Recruiting Machinery 686 

Diagnosis of Resistance to Enlistment 688 

Remedial Action by The Adjutant General 692 

Establishment of a Separate WAC Recruiting Service 694 

Achievements of the WAC Recruiting Service 696 

Last Days of WAC Recruiting 696 

Public Relations Support 699 

Establishment of the WAC Group 701 

Support by Films and Stage Shows 705 

Evaluation 708 

xxiii 



PART FOUR 
Last Days of the Wartime WAC 

Chapter Page 

XXXV. 1945: THE CLOSING MONTHS OF THE WAR 711 

Rotation Proposals 712 

Refresher Training of Officers . . 713 

School for WAC Personnel Administration 715 

Evaluation of Refresher Training 717 

Director Hobby s Resignation 719 

Recommendations for Promotion 721 

Choice of Successor 721 

Final Recommendations 724 

XXXVI. DEMOBILIZATION 726 

Action Following V-J Day 728 

Slowing of WAC Demobilization 729 

WAC Effort To Hasten Demobilization 732 

Cessation of WAC Demobilization 733 

Separation Procedure 735 

Veterans' Administration Policy 737 

Reserve Proposals 739 

Plans for a Regular Army WAC 741 

The Interim 743 

Congressional Action 746 

XXXVII. EVALUATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 750 

Cost to the Army 750 

Recommendations for the Future 752 

Report of the Hoover Commission 762 

The Final View 763 

Appendixes 

A. TABLES 

1. Strength of the Women's Army Corps: July 1942-December 1946 . . . 765 

2. Accessionsof Personnel in the Women's Army Corps: 1942-1946 . . . 766 

3. WAAC Personnel Statistics 767 

4. Strength of Women's Army Corps in Continental United States: May 

1943-December 1946 768,769 

5. Women's Army Corps Enlisted Personnel in Army Air Forces, Continen- 

tal United States, by Military Occupational Specialty: 31 January 

1945 770 

6. Women's Army Corps Officer Personnel in Army Air Forces, Continen- 

tal United States, by Military Occupational Specialty: 31 January 

1945 771 

7. Strength of Women's Army Corps in Overseas Theaters: 1943-1946 . 772,773 

8. Decorations and Awards Made to the Women's Army Corps: December 

1941-30 June 1947 774 

xxiv 



A ppendixes 

A. TABLES— Continued p age 
9. Personnel Discharged From the Women's Army Corps Because of Preg- 
nancy: 1942-1946 775 

10. Percent Distribution of WAG and Male Personnel in the U. S. Army, by 

Grade: December 1 942-December 1946 776 

11. Strength of Negro Personnel in the Women's Army Corps: 1943-1946. . 777 

12. Enlisted Personnel Separated From the Women's Army Corps: August 

1 942-December 1946 778 

13. Officers Separated From the Women's Army Corps: September 1 942- 

December 1946 779 

B. EXCERPT FROM REPORT ON BRITISH WOMEN'S SERVICES . 780 

C. A SUMMARY OF CONTROVERSY ON LEGAL STATUS OF WAAC . 782 

D. A SUMMARY OF WASP CONTROVERSY 784 

E. COURSE CONTENT 786 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 791 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 798 

INDEX 807 

Charts 

Favorable Comment on Women's Services 448 

Average Cost Estimates on Enlisted Personnel 751 

Illustrations 

Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby Frontispiece 

Women During World War I 9 

Gen. George C. Marshall 22 

WAAC Insignia 40 

Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby 47 

Screening of Applicant 57 

WAAC Staff and Members of the Press 64 

First Officer Candidate Class 68,69 

WAAC Officers Assigned for Duty in Washington 74 

Filter Board, Mitchel Field, New York 80 

Lt. Col. Helen H. Woods 90 

Brig. Gen. Don C. Faith 103 

On the Job at Fort Sam Houston, Texas 105 

First American Waacs En Route to North Africa 107 

Processing for Overseas 108, 109 

First Officer Elizabeth Strayhorn 125 

Maj. Betty Bandel 133 

KP Duty 142 

WAAC Band 157 

"You'll just have to get used to low-heeled shoes !" 160 

Physical Training 163 

Recruiting Officers of Sixth Service Command 170 



xxv 



Illustrations — Continued 

Page 

Recruiting Poster 185 

"What makes you think the WAAC is coming to this camp?" 196 

The President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt 202 

Clergymen Visiting Fort Des Moines 217 

Mass Enlistment Ceremonies 225 

Maj. Jessie P. Rice 235 

All-States Recruiting Campaign 240, 241 

Station-Job Recruiting Demonstrations 253 

Training at Lowry Field, Colorado 287 

First Officer Emily E. Davis 297 

Women Assigned to the Army Ground Forces 298 

Lt. Col . Katherine R. Goodwin 308 

Quebec Conference, August 1943 313 

Instruction in Radio Theory 322 

Women Decontamination Experts 323 

Medical Recruiting Display 355 

Maj. Westray Battle Boyce 363 

Wacs Arriving at Caserta, Italy 366 

Gen. Henri H. Giraud Reviewing Waacs 375 

Docking in Scotland 382 

Landing in Normandy 386 

Lt. Col. Anna W. Wilson 389 

Postal Directories in the European Theater 391 

Arriving in Sydney, Australia 417 

Commanding Officer of Third Contingent of Wacs 424 

Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea 428, 429 

WAC Area, Tacloban, Leyte Island 431 

Taj Mahal 466 

Maj. Gen. Miller G. White 481 

WAC Housing 518, 519 

Recreation Rooms 523 

On Leave In Paris, 1945 534 

Suitable Army Jobs for Women 560, 561 

General Marshall 575 

Overseas Training 586 

Maj. Margaret D. Craighill 603 

Processing at Training Centers 633 

Chemical Warfare Training 637 

Member of the Cooks Course 644 

Motor Transport Training 646 

Last Basic Training Inspection 659 

Vocation Counseling 736 

Photographs are from the Department of Defense files. 

xxvi 



PART ONE 



ORGANIZATION AND GROWTH OF A 
WOMEN'S CORPS 



CHAPTER I 



From 1776 to 

On the hot and sticky morning of 
Monday, 20 July 1942, the green parade 
ground at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, was 
lush with grass, daisies, gnats, and mem- 
bers of the press. The photographers re- 
quired the most supervision because of 
their tendencies toward photographing 
female underwear or latrine scenes. There 
were representatives of four press associa- 
tions, nineteen newspapers, four foreign 
news organizations, six motion picture 
companies, and two photographic serv- 
ices, plus many well-known writers. The 
occasion was the opening of the United 
States Army's first training center for 
women. 

Centuries of evolution in warfare and in 
society had been required to make pos- 
sible this unprecedented event. From the 
days of the American Revolution to the 
early twentieth century, there could be 
found little serious consideration of a 
women's corps in the United States Army. 
For the pioneer woman, home defense was 
a readily acceptable activity, but it had no 
connection in the public mind with an 
organized military corps of women. 

However, from the earliest days there 
were innumerable popular stories of fe- 
males who had disguised themselves well 
enough to enlist in the Army as individ- 
uals. None of these stories could be 
verified from Army files, and they appar- 
ently occurred more often in legend than 
in fact, but there was evidence that not all 
were fictional. The American Congress 



World War II 

went so far as to recognize the claims of 
one Revolutionary soldier, Deborah 
Sampson Gannett, by granting her hus- 
band a widow's pension. 

Every succeeding war had its Molly 
Pitchers, most of whom made good copy 
for the young American press. Nineteenth 
century newspapers reveled in such head- 
lines as SERVED BY HER LOVER's SIDE, Or 

the dead soldier was a woman. Accord- 
ing to these accounts, the Union Army in- 
advertently awarded some women the 
Kearny Cross and the Confederacy placed 
others on a Roll of Honor. One Confed- 
erate wife, declaring that she was "per- 
fectly wild about war," was said to have 
donned a false mustache and successfully 
raised and commanded a regiment of re- 
cruits. Such stories were legion, but 
scarcely of help to later Army planners. 1 

Of more significance for the future were 
scattered cases in which, because of an 
actual need for women's skills, the Army 
employed groups of civilian women as 
nurses, laundresses, clerks, and emergency 
aides of many types, sometimes in uni- 
forms of their own devising. It was not un- 
usual, for example, that each regiment of 
the Braddock expedition was allowed 
some forty women employees, one ration 

1 (1) Magazine of History, Vol. XXV, pp. 33-34 
(July 1917). (2) Ltr, TAG to Editor, Rural New Yorker, 
May 12, 1915. WD Rec AGO, Enl Br 7275-C, with 
3132-C-1884, 2285035 National Archives. (See bib- I 
liographical Note.) (3) Francis Henry Gribble, 
Women in War (London: Sampson Low, Marston & 
Co., Ltd., 1916). 



4 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



per woman. In 1775 General Washington 
sponsored a bill that created a hospital 
department for the Army and allowed it 
to pay civilian nurses approximately 
twenty-five cents a day. In time of emer- 
gency, civilian women of prominence and 
reputation continued to nurse the sick, 
sew, operate canteens, and lend what as- 
sistance their skills permitted. However, 
for a reputable woman to accept such em- 
ployment was often considered daring in 
view of the danger of confusion with the 
more numerous women camp followers, 
whose ill repute was apt to attach itself to 
any female employee, In later wars, the 
employment of women became more com- 
mon; drill, mascot, and social groups were 
also organized, complete with uniforms 
and sometimes rifles. - 

There was a very clear distinction in the 
Army's and the public's minds between 
such groups and a corps of women with 
soldiers' legal status, rights, and discipline. 
Just before the nation's entry into the first 
World War, the Army stated positively: 

No official record has been found in the 
War Department showing specifically that 
any woman was ever enlisted in the military 
service of the United States as a member of 
any organization of the Regular or Volunteer 
Army. It is possible, however, that there may 
have been a few instances of women having 
served as soldiers for a short time without 
their sex having been detected, but no record 
of such cases is known to exist in the official 
files. Women were often employed as laun- 
dresses and as nurses, but they were merely 
civilians while so engaged and were in no 
sense in the military service of the United 
States. 3 

Total War and the Industrial Revolution 

Serious consideration of an official 
women's corps was scarcely possible before 
the twentieth century. Until then, war 



was not organized and mechanized to an 
extent that required more manpower than 
a nation could provide from among its 
men; the great supply systems and fixed 
headquarters of total war were yet to 
come. Also, women were skilled in few 
duties that would have been useful to an 
army even had it needed manpower, and 
few women felt it proper to practice even 
their traditional tasks of cooking and nurs- 
ing outside the home. 

Both reasons were swept away in the 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, 
when the industrial revolution that mech- 
anized men's wars also taught women to 
work outside the home. Long before the 
Army began to consider the admittance of 
women, businesses and factories had em- 
ployed them and had trained them as 
clerks, typists, telephone operators, and 
technicians. Some such fields were in fact 
taken over by women so completely that 
by the time of the first World War it was 
already difficult for the Army to find any 
number of competent male typists and 
telephone operators. 

Nevertheless, there remained consider- 
able room for doubt as to the value of 
woman as a military employee. Industry's 
experience had produced the general im- 
pression that women were suited only for 
work of limited responsibility; that 
"women won't work for women" and cer- 
tainly that men would not; that a woman 
employee was handicapped by a weaker 
constitution and more frequent ailments. 
Business surveys as late as 1942 confirmed 
the fact that women supervisors were un- 
popular with employees because of alleged 



2 ( 1) Sir John William Foriescue, History of the Brit- 
ish Army (London and New York: Vlacmillan and Co., 
1890-1930), Vol. I. (2) Rapid City, S. D., Daily Jour- 
nal, October 21, 1944. 

3 Ltr cited |n. \JTj\ 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



5 



deficiencies in leadership. Army planners 
also noted delicately that a woman had a 
"physiological handicap which renders 
her abnormal, unstable, etc., at certain 
times." 4 Medical statistics indicated that 
women were in general smaller than men 
in stature, lighter in weight, less in average 
weight of skeletal muscles and heart, lower 
in basal metabolism, and with only about 
60 percent the strength to lift, grip, or pull 
loads. 5 

It therefore was a matter for grave con- 
sideration whether an Army would be jus- 
tified in accepting women into military 
positions where unreliability would be not 
merely uneconomical but disastrous, even 
though farm and factory were thereby 
stripped of their last man. In the relatively 
flexible civilian economy, a woman might 
soften in many ways her adjustment to 
difficult work, but in the rigid military 
framework, adaptation would be an all- 
or-nothing affair. There would be no easy 
absenteeism, home privacy and comforts, 
or choice of working conditions, nor yet 
the privilege of quitting a demanding job. 

Even if these handicaps proved exag- 
gerated, there was one obstacle that was 
not — the opposition of the American pub- 
lic. The Army did not operate in the 
vacuum of a dictatorship, but in a nation, 
society, and culture whose traditions must 
be considered. The course of public opin- 
ion regarding woman's place had by no 
means kept pace with her economic 
progress. The saying was still frequently 
heard that "woman's place is in the 
home," and it appeared certain that there 
would be great public opposition to plac- 
ing women in soldier's jobs and in posi- 
tions of rank and command. Army 
psychiatrists later noted that "in order for 
women to gain an active participation in 
military activities it was necessary for man 



to change his basic concept of the feminine 
role, to overcome his fear of 'women gen- 
erals.' " 6 Army planners realized that such 
an obstacle existed, but it was not until 
after the establishment of a women's corps 
that its full extent was to be revealed. 

The Army Nurse Carps 

First to take the field against these ob- 
stacles was the Army Nurse Corps, whose 
development provided a close parallel to 
later WAC events. The admitted superior- 
ity of female nursing first caused accept- 
ance of nurses as civilian employees, but 
in war after war it was found extremely 
difficult to maintain a civilian group with- 
in a military organization. Much ineffi- 
ciency in Civil War medical care was 
believed due to "the lack of a single uni- 
fied Nurse Corps with official status." In 
the Spanish-American War, it was noted 
that "unified direction and control within 
the Army framework itself was the only 
way to avoid administrative confusion and 
to assure maximum efficiency." 7 

Such full admission was delayed chiefly 
by popular opposition to military status 
for females, which led one early organizer 
to remark, "The nurse question is the 
women question; we shall have to run the 



4 Ltr, Maj L. W. Mcintosh, Exec, Office Chief of 
Air Corps, to Maj Everett S. Hughes, G-l, 17 Apr 30. 
G-l/19835. 

3 Anna M. Baetjer, Women in Industry; Their Health 
and Efficiency (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 
1946). Prepared in the Army Industrial Hygiene 
Laboratory under auspices of the National Research 
Council. 

8 Maj Albert Preston, Jr., History of Psychiatry in 
the Women's Army Corps. 1946. SGO. Hereafter 
cited as Preston, Hist of Psychiatry in WAC. 

" All references to the Army Nurse Corps, and to 
nursing, unless otherwise stated, are from a pamphlet 
published by the ANC, The Army Nurse. Copy in War 
College Library. 



6 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



gantlet of those historic rotten eggs." 8 In 
1901 Congress established the Army 
Nurse Corps, with somewhat the same 
status as the later Women's Army Auxil- 
iary Corps (WAAC) — a military organ- 
ization, but without Army rank, officer 
status, equal pay, or Army benefits such as 
retirement and veteran's rights. After the 
first World War its members were given 
relative rank and some retirement bene- 
fits, although pay and allowances still 
were not those of the men. Full military 
rank was not to be granted to nurses until 
1944, a year after the WAAC had been 
legally admitted to full Army status and 
rank as the Women's Army Corps 
(WAC). 9 

Nevertheless, in placing nurses in a 
militarized and uniformed corps, the na- 
tion had taken one long step toward ad- 
mission of women to full membership in 
the armed forces. Neither the public nor 
the Army was prepared to take further 
steps; the serious proposal for the estab- 
lishment of the Women's Army Corps 
waited for the day when some great war 
that would almost drain the pool of Amer- 
ican manpower should coincide with an 
availability of women workers trained in 
the modern skills an army required. 

World War I 

The first World War narrowly missed 
being that occasion. The first pinch of 
manpower shortage was felt chiefly by 
American industry and business, but by 
the end of 1918 the military services were 
also seriously concerned. The British, 
whose war effort was more nearly total, 
had already established women's auxil- 
iaries in several of their services, and there 
was considerable evidence that had the 
war lasted a few months longer the United 



States might have done likewise. At the 
moment of the Armistice, the War Depart- 
ment General Staff was beset by serious 
proposals to this effect from both within 
and without the Army. 10 

One of the first of these proposals was 
initiated by the American Expeditionary 
Force in France. On 8 October 1917, 
General Pershing cabled a request for one 
hundred women telephone operators who 
could speak French and recommended 
that they be uniformed. This request was 
approved and the women were sent as 
civilian contract employees with privileges 
very similar to those of the Army Nurse 
Corps. Subsequently other groups were 
sent overseas, under varying contracts, by 
The Quartermaster General, the Ord- 
nance Department, and the Medical 
Corps, but none had military status. In 
spite of extensive use of these groups, and 
of French women for unskilled work, the 
labor shortage of the AEF continued. 11 

At the same time, numerous civilian 
volunteer welfare groups, using over 5,000 
American women, thrived and multiplied 
overseas in an un-co-ordinated manner, 
and appeared to the Army to be striving 
through competitive publicity to show 
what they had done for "the boys." While 
Army reports recorded almost no criticism 
of the conduct of these women, they did 

8 Statement attributed to Mrs. Bedford Fenwick, 
about 1887, Lucy Ridgely (Buckler) Seymer, A Gen- 
eral History of Nursing (London: Faberand Faber, Ltd., 
1933). 

a The use of the abbreviations WAAC (later WAC) 
for the Corps and of Waacs (later Wacs) for its mem- 
bers was authorized, provided the full title of the 
Corps was used first, by Office Memorandum 21, 1 1 
September 1942 . SPWA 300, 1942 WAAC files. (See 
\b\ bliogra phical ] Note.) 

LU u. (Joiett vVadge, ed., Women in Uniform (Lon- 
don: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., 1946). 

11 (1) Cablegram 276, par 15*, 8 Nov 17; (2) 
Memo, Dir of Women's Relations for G-l, 6 Aug 26, 
sub: Utilization of Women in Mil Serv. G-l/7000-2. 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



7 



criticize the lack of orderly administration, 
the overlapping of duties, and the absence 
of any Army control. The confusion in the 
welfare groups was in striking contrast to 
the organized service given by members of 
the British Women's Auxiliary Army 
Corps, the largest of the British auxiliaries, 
whose services were lent to the AEF when 
the need for women's skills grew des- 
perate. American Army officers in later 
years remembered favorably the disci- 
pline, efficiency, and esprit de corps of the 
British women's services. 12 

In still further attempts to solve the 
AEF's labor shortages, the commanding 
general of the AEF's Services of Supply, 
Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, cabled re- 
peatedly to the War Department in Au- 
gust of 1918 for authority to send a repre- 
sentative to the United States to recruit 
and organize a group of 5,000 women 
clerical workers to replace enlisted men. 
The representative was sent, followed by a 
proposal from the AEF that a women's 
service corps be organized as a part of the 
Army Service Corps. After considerable 
War Department debate as to whether the 
women should be enlisted, Civil Service, 
or uniformed contract employees, General 
Harbord was informed that, because of 
the change in draft age, 5,000 limited 
service men would be sent instead of the 
women. Concerning a women's corps, the 
War Department stated that it was not yet 
convinced of "the desirability or feasibility 
of making this most radical departure in 
the conduct of our military affairs." 13 

Meanwhile, strong supporting action 
for the AEF's effort came from posts and 
camps and from headquarters agencies in 
the United States. All Army and National 
Guard cantonments and camps had pre- 
viously been forbidden to employ civilian 
women in any capacity except as nurses. 14 



In the face of pleas from station command- 
ers, this ruling was soon modified to author- 
ize civilian employment of women "in 
essential work for which men employees 
cannot be obtained . . taking only those 
of mature age and high moral character." 15 
The War Department noted, "With care- 
ful supervision, women employees may be 
permitted in camps without moral injury 
either to themselves or to the soldiers." 16 
Even with this concession, enough em- 
ployees could not be procured, especially 
in isolated and uncomfortable stations, to 
perform all necessary duties. The Wash- 
ington headquarters offices also found it 
difficult to obtain and hold an adequate 
number of female Civil Service em- 
ployees. 17 

Therefore, the conclusion was reached 
almost simultaneously by several Army 
agencies, both in Washington and in the 
field, that a corps of women under mili- 
tary control would be the solution to these 
problems. As The Quartermaster General 
pointed out concerning laundresses: 

Every effort in the past of this office to pro- 
vide a hired force of women at camps and 
cantonments has been unsatisfactory . . . 



12 (1) Memo cited fr. 1 1(2)J Table G, Rpts on Wel- 
fare Work, AEF; Tables A, B. (2) Senate Com on Mil 
Affairs, 77th Cong, 2d sess, Hearings on S 2240, 6 Feb 
42, pp. 10-14. 

13 (1) Memo cited ln. 1 1(2TI Also: (2) Memo, CofS 
for TAG, Oct 18, sub: Enlmt of Women for Serv in 
France. WD Rec OCofS, 10730-19, National Ar- 
chives. (3) Memo, TAG for CofS, 2 May 18, AG 
01 1.2; approved by ACofS, 1 1 May 18, in Memo for 
TAG, 1 1 May 18. WD Rec AGO, WPD 10730-7, 
National Archives. 

14 Stf Memo, 8 Oct 17, in 1st Ind OQMG, 16 Oct 
17. G-l/7000-2. 

15 Ltr, TAG to CGs of all National Guard and Na- 
tional Army Divs, 11 Dec 17. AG 230.221 1 (Misc 
Div). See Memo cited |n. 1 

16 Memo, Lt Col Robert I. Rees, GS C, for CofS, 7 
Dec 17. Copy in Memo cited ln. 1 1(2)1 

,T Memo 62, Col Ira L. Re eves, IGD , for ASW, 24 
Aug 18. Copy in Memo cited |n. 1 1 (2).| 



8 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



only women of doubtful character show any 
inclination to remain as long as the voluntary 
system of employment is in vogue. 18 

The Quartermaster General thereupon 
recommended that legislation be secured 
to authorize the enlistment of women, ages 
21-45, to be organized as the Women's 
Auxiliary Quartermaster Corps. Similar 
requests, giving similar reasons, were also 
made by the Inspector General's Depart- 
ment, the Chief of Engineers, the Opera- 
tions Branch of the General Staff, and the 
Chief of Ordnance. The Chief of Ord- 
nance estimated that the yearly turn- 
over of civilian employees in his branch 
was approaching 84 percent. Ordnance 
and other branches went so far as to de- 
vise the uniform to be worn by enlisted 
women. At a meeting with representatives 
of The Quartermaster General, The Sur- 
geon General, Signal Corps, Military 
Aeronautics, and the Corps of Engineers, 
it was decided that the uniform should be 
of "soft silver brown wool material," with 
a tan pongee blouse and brown Windsor 
tie, and that "no furs shall be worn with 
the uniform." 19 

These pleas did not receive favorable 
consideration by the War Department. 
Legislation to enlist "effective and able- 
bodied women" had in fact already been 
introduced in Congress in December of 
1917, but had been returned to the House 
Military Affairs Committee by the Secre- 
tary of War with an expression of his dis- 
approval. The memorandum upon which 
this opinion was based stated in unmis- 
takable terms: 

The enlistment of women in the military 
forces of the United States has never been 
seriously contemplated and such enlistment 
is considered unwise and highly undesirable 
. . . the action provided for in this bill is not 
only unwise, but exceedingly ill-advised. 



War Plans Division noted in May of 1918: 

Industrial conditions in the United States 
are not yet in such shape that it is necessary 
to undertake a line of action that would be 
fraught with so many difficulties. 20 

The War Department was equally un- 
favorable to an attempt by The Surgeon 
General to commission women doctors in 
the Medical Corps. The Judge Advocate 
General was unable to discover in the ter- 
minology of the National Defense Act any 
legal barrier to the appointment of women 
under that act. Nevertheless, the War De- 
partment's opinion was upheld on the 
grounds that only persons "physically, 
mentally, and morally qualified" could be 
appointed and that women doctors were 
obviously not physically qualified. 21 

The dismay of certain Army agencies 
at the lack of Army authority to enlist 
women was heightened by the Navy's ac- 
tion in placing the opposite interpretation 
upon its legislative authority and enlisting 
all the women it needed without further 
ceremony. As one Army planner later 
complained, "By enlisting Yeomen (F) the 
Navy Department ignored the Civil Serv- 
ice Commission and satisfied its needs re- 
gardless of the needs of others. They 

18 Memo, OQMG for TAG, 24 Apr 18, sub: Legis- 
lation Authorizing Enlmt of Women. WD Rec, 
OCofS, War College Div, 107 30-7, 400.6 General, 
National Archives. 

19 (1) Memo cited |n. 11(2)1 Tab F. (2) Series of five 
studies by Dr. Kristine Mann, Civilian Workers' Br, 
OCofOrd, 19 Sep to 28 Sep 18. (3) Memo, CofOrd 
for WPD, 26 Sep 18. WD Rec, OCofS, War College 
Div 10730-16 and 17, 342/8, National Archives. 

20 (1) HR 7112, 6 Dec 17. (2) Memo. Actg Chief, 
War College Div, for CofS, 22 Dec 17, sub: Bill Intro- 
duced in House of Representatives. Rejection was by 
Ltr, Newton D. Baker, SW, to Chmn, House Com on 
Mil Affairs, 26 Dec 17. WD Rec, OCofS, War Col- 
lege Div, 10730-1, National Archives. (3) Memo, Dir 
WPD for CofS, 8 May 18. WD Rec, OCofS, War Col- 
lege Div, 10730-7, AG 011.2, National Archives. 

31 Operations JAG 1917, I, 126. National Archives, 



10 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



wanted clerks and they got them," 22 
Nearly 13,000 women enlisted in the Navy 
and Marine Corps on the same status as 
men and wore a uniform blouse with in- 
signia. These women were the first in the 
United States to be admitted to full mili- 
tary rank and status. 23 

In addition to the pressure on the War 
Department from military advocates of 
the enlistment of women, there was un- 
doubtedly some activity by organized 
women's groups. Prominent women in 
various sections of the country went so far 
as to organize semimilitary groups. In 
New York the Women's League for Self- 
Defense, five hundred strong and dressed 
in bloomers and puttees, drilled with 
rifles in the 66th Regimental Armory, 
and informed reporters that they had 
written Secretary of War Newton D. Baker 
and Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood "offering 
our service as the only strictly military 
women's organization in America." The 
YWCA proposed that any more women 
sent to France be placed in a women's 
army corps like the British WAAC, with 
strict discipline and no individual billet- 
ing. 25 A similar proposal came from the 
American Council on Education, which 
concluded that military status would make 
for fewer resignations among trainees for 
war jobs. 26 

All such proposals came to an abrupt 
end with the cessation of hostilities on 1 1 
November 1918. With a one-page sigh'of 
relief the General Staff shelved the bulky 
documents that had set forth the argu- 
ments pro and con, and declared: 

In view of the present military situation it 
is believed no longer desirable that arrange- 
ments be made to form military organiza- 
tions composed of women. ... A continu- 
ance of the war would have required the 
United States in completing its program for 
the year 1919 to make a much more ex- 



tended use of women ... to replace men 
sent overseas or men shifted to heavy work 
which men alone can do. 27 

With this, the serious consideration of 
the establishment of a women's military 
group was relinquished to another genera- 
tion of planners and to another war. 

Twenty-three Tears of Peace 

The nation had hardly settled itself into 
postwar routine when it became evident 
that considerable political power was be- 
ing wielded by the newly enfranchised fe- 
male sex and its many well-organized 
national groups. It soon began to appear 
to the Army, as well as to many female 
leaders, that the mass of American women 
was dangerously susceptible to the charms 
of pacifism and other doctrines that advo- 
cated the abolition of the military as the 
best means of insuring peace. 28 

To stem this tide of opinion the Army 
sought to teach women voters more about 

22 Memo, Hughes for G-l, 2 1 Sep 28, sub: Partici- 
pation of Women in War. G- 1/8604-1. 

2:1 Memo cited l n. I 1T7T1 The legality of the Navy's 
action was held in "grave doubt" in a later decision 
of the Comptroller of the Treasury, but payment of 
the women was permitted in order not to interfere 
with naval efficiency. The Navy thereupon ceased en- 
listing women, but those already enlisted retained 
rights of service personnel and later of veterans. 
Memo, Maj Briant H. Wells, GS, for CofS, 22 Jun 17. 
WD Rec, OCofS, War College Div, 8196-7, National 
Archives. 

21 New York. American, February 9, 1917. 

33 Memo, Dir WPD for CofS, 21 Oct 18, sub: Enlmt 
of Women for Serv in France. WD Rec, OCofS 
10730-19, National Archives. 

26 Memo, Chmn, Com on War Serv Tng for College 
Women, American Council on Education, 18 Sep 18. 
WD Rec, OCofS 10730-16, National Archives. 

27 Memo. CofOpns Div GS for CofS,— Nov 18, sub: 
Orgn of WAAC and Equivalent Orgn in U.S. WD 
Rec, OCofS, War College Di v 10730- 23, National 
Archives. Copy in Memo cited |n~ 1 1(2)1 

28 Proceedings of Fifth Women's Patriotic Confer- 
ence on National Defense, 29-3 1 Jan 30, Constitution 
Hall, Washington, D. C. Copy in G-l/9835. 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



11 



its own nature and purpose. To this end, 
Secretary Baker in 1920 created a new po- 
sition under the comprehensive title of 
Director of Women's Relations, United 
States Army, with an office in G-l Divi- 
sion of the General Staff. The director was 
to maintain liaison between the War De- 
partment and the women of the country 
and to secure their co-operation by ex- 
plaining to them that the Army was "a 
progressive, socially minded human insti- 
tution" and that women voters should not 
"fanatically demand the dissolution of a 
ruthless military machine." There was 
some consideration as to whether the di- 
rector should have military status, but the 
Army decided to await developments. 

The first incumbent of the position re- 
signed after one year, for personal reasons 
and for what her successor believed to be 
"dissatisfaction with the lack of support 
given her." ! " The next appointee, Miss 
Anita Phipps, the daughter of an Army 
family, was also dissatisfied. There ensued 
a decade-long battle as to whether her po- 
sition should degenerate into that of a 
supervisor of the Army's thirty-odd host- 
esses, or should be expanded into that of 
planner-in-chief for a women's Army 
corps, and first director. 

Miss Phipps 1 difficulties, as set forth in 
periodic lengthy memoranda to the Secre- 
tary of War, centered around War Depart- 
ment failure to support her commitments 
and to give her military status. She thus, 
in her opinion, lost prestige in the eyes of 
powerful women's groups. She was em- 
barrassed in the presence of Army and 
Navy nurses by her "undignified make- 
shift" ot a uniform. Headquarters divisions 
and offices often failed to consult her when 
corresponding with women's organiza- 
tions. General officers, when asked to 
speak before women's groups, ignored the 



careful tip sheets Miss Phipps had pre- 
pared for their guidance, and often alien- 
ated those whom she had cultivated with 
care. Her recommendations and staff 
studies were frequently filed without fur- 
ther action. One of her chiefs in G-l Divi- 
sion went so far as to state baldly that her 
position should be abolished, since the 
male members of the General Staff were 
competent to plan the future utilization of 
women by the military service. 11 

In 1929, after almost ten years of work, 
Miss Phipps had nevertheless secured ten- 
tative approval of a plan that would unite 
the support of the most powerful women's 
groups behind the Secretary of War by 
means of a system of civilian aides to the 
Secretary — one chief aide, one in each 
corps area, and one in each state. Secre- 
tary of War Dwight F. Davis on 25 Febru- 
ary 1929 publicly announced this plan to 
the press after a conference with women 
members of the League of Women Voters, 
American War Mothers, Daughters of the 
American Revolution, National Federa- 
tion of Business and Professional Women's 
Clubs, and other such groups. 

There at once arose a storm of letters 
from Senators and clergymen and from 
male civilian aides threatening to resign 
if women were also made civilian aides. 
Only fifteen days later a new Secretary of 
War, James W. Good, was in office and 
promptly sent telegrams to the women 
representatives, canceling the meeting of 
the nominating committee. This action, 
which in Miss Phipps' opinion greatly 
alienated the powerful women's groups, 

Memo, Dir Women's Relations for SW, 8 Jan 27. 
G-l /9562. Copy, with history of the office attached, 
in G- 1/9 83 5. 
: <" Ibid. 

" Memo, Brig Gen Campbell King, G-l, for CofS, 
29 Sep 27, sub: Duty of Dir Women's Relations for 
U.S. Army. G- 1/9835. 



12 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



was followed in October by a final letter 
from Mr. Good to the women concerned, 
regretting that "the present is not a propi- 
tious time for appointing women civilian 
aides." 33 

Discouraged and in ill health, Miss 
Phipps in 1930 made a last appeal to the 
Secretary of War to define her duties and 
authority or to abolish her position. 
Nothing definite was done, and in 1931 
her work was terminated by illness and by 
a new Chief of Staff, Gen. Douglas Mac- 
Arthur, who overrode a favorable G-l 
opinion and informed the Secretary of 
War that he considered her duties to be of 
no military value. 33 

Plans for a Women's Service Corps 

The Director of Women's Relations left 
behind her the first complete and work- 
able plan for a women's corps. Over a 
period of several years she compiled all 
evidence concerning the utilization of 
women during World War I, including the 
opinions of the British, the Congress, the 
Navy, and various Army commands. The 
heart of the plan was that the proposed 
women's service corps should be in the 
Army and not an auxiliary. She rejected 
the then-popular idea of enlisting women 
and giving them a uniform and a job but 
no military training, organization, disci- 
pline, housing, or required courtesies. This 
idea, she noted, had been tried and proved 
undesirable by both the Navy and the 
British. Instead, she proposed that women 
be fully trained and assigned only in units 
under the command of women officers, 
with not less than a squad at any station 
and no individual billeting allowed. All 
Army Regulations were to apply, plus 
special regulations for women as needed. 34 

By sending questionnaires to eight corps 



areas, three territorial departments, and 
eighteen chiefs of branches or similar serv- 
ices, Miss Phipps discovered that about 
170,000 women would be wanted in war- 
time, although only six agencies favored 
giving them immediate military status. 

In view of later debate about the proper 
jobs for women in the Army, it was signifi- 
cant that at this time the concept of a 
menial type of corps of low-grade person- 
nel still loomed large in Army thinking. 
Not quite half of the requests were for 
clerks and stenographers; a few others 
were for small numbers of skilled workers 
such as draftsmen, dietitians, and tele- 
phone operators. The rest were chiefly for 
large numbers for relatively unskilled 
work: approximately 5,800 laundry work- 
ers, 7,000 cooks, 1,300 charwomen and 
janitors, 5,000 chauffeurs, 2,000 messen- 
gers, 1 1,000 laborers, 8,000 seamstresses, 
and so on. 

The whole idea was rejected by the 
General Staff in August of 1926, although 
most divisions called it a "very splendid" 
study. 35 G-2 Division objected to the cost 
of housing, G-3 to difficulties in trans- 
portation and toilet facilities, and G-4 to 
the personnel policy involved. War Plans 



32 (1) Copies of ltrs and telgs are in G-l/9835 
(1927). (2) Ltr, SW to Mrs. John Sippel, President, 
Gen Federation of Women's Clubs, 19 Oct 29. G- 
1/8604-3. 

33 (1) Memo, Miss Phipps for SW, 21 Oct 30; (2) 
Memos, G-l for CofS, 13, 14: Nov 30; (3) Memos, 
OCofS, 5-6 Mar 31; (4) Ltr, CofS to SW, 10 Mar 31. 
All in G-l/9835 (1931). 

34 (1) Her voluminous preliminary notes and studies 
are still on file in several roughly bound volumes in 
G-l/7000. (2) Memo, Dir Women's Relations for 
G-l, 6 Aug 26. G-l/7000- 2. For Navy and British 
experiences see: (3) Memo, OCofOrd for 3d ASW. 
WD Rec, OCofS, War College Div, 1 0730-16, Na- 
tional Archives. (4) Memo cited ! n. 25 1 

15 Memo, G-l for G-2, G-3, G-4, and WPD, 14 
Aug 26, sub: Utilization of Women in Mil Scrv, and 
atchd replies. G- 1/7000-3. 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



13 



Division suggested that the study be used 
only as a basis for further study and 
planning. 

Throughout the comments of the en- 
tire General Staff ran the conviction that 
the mobilization of the United States 
would be a leisurely affair. G-4 Division 
noted: "To consider the development of a 
training organization for women workers 
in the beginning of a major emergency 
appears unthinkable.' SiS 

A more powerful reason for private op- 
position among officers of the General 
Staff was noted by the Assistant Chief of 
Staff, G-l, Brig. Gen. Campbell King. 
General King wrote personally to the 
Chief of Staff that Miss Phipps seemed to 
wish to perfect within the Army an organi- 
zation of women, headed by a woman, 
with a hierarchy of subheads plus influen- 
tial civilian advisers, which would consti- 
tute "a powerful machine difficult to 
control and endowed with possibilities of 
hampering and embarrassing the War 
Department." 37 

Oddly enough, during a decade when 
neither a military corps nor a civilian ad- 
visory group could receive approval, a few 
women somewhat accidentally fell heir to 
the full blessings of Army status. When, in 
a more or less routine order, the supposedly 
all-male category of Army field clerks was 
blanketed into military service, it was 
found to include a handful of women em- 
ployees. While this occurrence was scarcely 
noted on the planning level and was never 
considered a precedent for an organized 
women's corps, the few individuals con- 
cerned were later held by the Comptroller 
General to have been full-fledged mem- 
bers of the military service, with the same 
status as the Navy yeomanettes. Later, 
Congress amended the armed forces' legis- 
lation to place the word male before persons, 



thus effectually guaranteeing that neither 
the yeomanette nor the field clerk episode 
would be repeated without its sanction. 38 

The Hughes Plan 

Male planners up to this time had not 
come to very close grips with the problem 
of planning for a women's corps. While 
students at the Army War College had 
studied a course entitled "Conservation by 
Utilization of Women in Industry, in Mili- 
tary Service, and in Welfare Work," it was 
ordinarily assumed that such "Conserva- 
tion" would be most appropriately left to 
industry. The chief Army planner for a 
women's corps was appointed in 1928; he 
was Maj. Everett S. Hughes of G-l Divi- 
sion, General Staff. 39 

Pointing out that nothing but fruitless 
conflict had resulted from previous argu- 
ments between extreme feminists on the 
one side and male die-hards on the other, 
all disagreeing endlessly over minor de- 
tails, Major Hughes proposed acceptance 
of the fact that women would inevitably 
play a part in the next war — the more 
nearly total the war, the greater the part. 
No amount of wishful thinking could avert 
that necessity, powered as it was by social 
and economic trends beyond the nation's 
powers to reverse. 

On the other hand, he stated, the Army 
should not attempt a detailed solution un- 
til the situation was known; it would be 
futile to waste time debating minor points, 



:,G Memo, G-4 for G-l, 13 Sep 26. G-4/20390. 

37 (1) Memo, G-l for CofS, 6 Jul 27. G-l/9835. 
(2) Memo, Lt Col George Grunert for G-l, 3 Feb 27. 
G-l/7000-2. 

• 1B The C omptroller General's decision is discussed 
in fch. XI I J below. 

3U Discussion of Hughes plan, unless otherwise indi- 
cated, is from Memo, Hughes for G-l, 21 Sep 28, sub: 
Participation of Women in War. G- 1 /8604- 1 . 



14 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



such as whether women should enter the 
combat zone, until it was known what the 
combat zone of the next war might in- 
clude. Before the time arrived to make 
these specific decisions, the women who 
were to help make them must be trained 
not merely in drill but in an understand- 
ing of Army thinking, a process that could 
not be achieved overnight. And the men 
who were to make the decisions must also 
be trained in understanding the problems 
of militarization of women. If the women 
who were to lead the new corps were ig- 
norant, said Hughes, "this ignorance, coupled 
with mail's intolerance, may be fatal." 

The Hughes plan contemplated that 
only women overseas or in danger zones 
would be militarized. The only advantage 
to the Army in militarizing other women 
would be that of being able to order them 
to perform certain unpopular duties such 
as laundry work, and the plan noted the 
fallacy of supposing that women of a 
higher type would enlist after they knew 
that only menial work was in store for 
them. 

The need for military status in danger 
zones was strongly indicated by current 
arguments then before Congress concern- 
ing women who had worked in France 
and who were seeking compensation for 
the loss of their health. The War Depart- 
ment had already decided that such 
women were not entitled to veterans' 
gratuities, ruling in one case: 

Female telephone operators have no mili- 
tary status whatever . . . those serving with 
the American Expeditionary Forces [were] 
not even under civil service regulations. . . . 
It is not believed that Congress intended that 
a gratuity should be paid to any person not 
actually a member of the military establish- 
ment/ 1 

Nevertheless, the sentiment in Congress 
favored those women whose disabilities 



were directly due to war service, and 
financial relief to prevent their destitution 
was voted in certain cases. At this time 
Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of 
Massachusetts developed an interest in the 
problem which was to lead ultimately to 
her sponsorship, fifteen years later, of the 
WAAC bill. 11J 

Major Hughes also stated that it was 
uneconomical and confusing to have sepa- 
rate organizations of men and women, 
and that qualified women could be in- 
tegrated into the men's army, with a simi- 
lar uniform and privileges. He argued 
against camouflaging rank by odd titles 
such as Deputy Controller, which spared 
the male ego but confused the employing 
agencies. "Why not take the whole step 
and do the thing right?" he wrote. 

Major Hughes' prophetic efforts were 
embalmed with indorsements, laid out for 
observation for a period, and then buried 
so deep in the files that they were recov- 
ered only after the WAAC was six months 
old and War Department planners had 
already made most of the mistakes he pre- 
dicted. Vi His study was sent to the Chief of 



4 " Authors italics. 

" Memo, Dir WPD for CofS. 18 Mar 19. WD Rec, 
OCofS, War Collego Div. 10730-26, National Ar- 
chives. 

4 - (1) House Com on Veterans Legislation, 69th 
Gong, 1st sess. Hearings, 6 Aug 26. (2) Interv with 
Mrs. Rogers, 14 Dec 45. (This form of citation is used 
throughout for interviews conducted by the author.) 

4:i The study was recovered then only when Mrs. 
Oveta Gulp Hobby, Director, WAAC, on temporary 
duty in England, was introduced to Maj. Gen. Ev- 
erett S. Hughes, who demanded to know what G-l 
had done with his masterpiece. Returning to Wash- 
ington, she unearthed it but found no evidence that 
it had been known to the G-l planners. Interv with 
Lt Col Helen Hamilton Woods, Deputy Dir WAC, 22 
Oct 45. 

Throughout the volume, the rank held by the offi- 
cer at the time of the interview or of the discussion in 
the text is given. Since this is not a completely chrono- 
logical account, an officer who appears in an early 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



15 



Staffin 1928 and again, refurbished, in 
1930. 44 At this time the new G-l, Brig. 
Gen. Albert J. Bowley, also distinguished 
himself in the field of prophecy by propos- 
ing an immediate campaign of education 
for Regular Army officers, since 

Successful co-operation between men and 
women during the next war will depend to a 
great extent on the attitude of the officers of 
the Regular Army toward the women of the 
country. To influence this attitude will re- 
quire much time and discussion. 4 "' 

A dejected-looking sheaf of handwritten 
scraps of paper indicated that the studies 
were carried back and forth from G-l to 
the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of War 
to G-l, bearing notations of diminishing 
intensity, such as "Hold until Secretary of 
War decides"; "Hold until fall when 
women return to their homes after sum- 
mer activities"; and, finally, merely 
"Hold." The last one in the series, dated 5 
January 1931. stated: "General B. says 
may as well suspend; no one seems willing 
to do anything about it." 

So ended the peacetime planning for a 
women's corps. 

The Approach of World War II 

On 1 September 1939, under the shad- 
ow of imminent hostilities, Gen. George C. 
Marshall was appointed Chief of Staff, 
and a month later planning for a women's 
corps was resumed. A staff study of the 
problem was shortly prepared by G-l 
Division. The study did not reflect its 



chapter as a lieutenant colonel subsequently may be 
referred to as a major or a captain. It should also be 
noted that, just as brigadier, major, and lieutenant 
generals are customarily referred to. after their initial 
mention, simply as General . lieutenant colo- 
nels are referred to similarly as Colonel . Colo- 
nel Hobby was the only full colonel in the wartime 
WAC. 



predecessors in any way; planners were 
evidently not aware of the Phipps and 
Hughes studies. 4 ' 1 

The most important idea in the new 
plan was that women must under no cir- 
cumstances be given full military status. 
The Civilian Conservation Corps was hit 
upon as the model. The plan stated: 

The CCC has shown how persons may be 
grouped in units with a military form of or- 
ganization, uniformed, given grades of rank, 
paid and cared for, employed under orders 
of Army Officers, administered by the 
Army's chain of command, and governed by 
War Department Regulations, without being 
members of the Army. 

WAAC leaders were later to consider 
this analogy extremely unfortunate, since 
the CCC had been a peacetime organiza- 
tion employed in separate camps, whereas 
the WAAC was to be used in Army camps 
and overseas where a legal distinction in 
status would be far more difficult. The 
plan likewise proposed that some women 
would be set up in "quasi-military female 
organizations" similar to companies, while 
others would move about individually or 
in small groups. It was stated that women's 
probable jobs would include those of "host- 
esses, librarians, canteen clerks, cooks and 
waitresses, chauffeurs, messengers, and 
strolling minstrels." The plan was held in 
abeyance, and for another eighteen 
months the W r ar Department did not com- 
mit itself. 47 

11 (1) Memo, Gen King, G-l, for CofS, 24 Aug 28. 
G- 1/8604-1. (2) Memo, Brig Gen Albert J. Bowley, 
G-t, 28 Feb 30. G-l/8604-4. 

Memo, G-l for CofS, 4 Jun 29, sub: Participa- 
tion of Women in War. G-l/8604-2. 

Memo, Capt VVilliston B. Palmer for G-l, 2 Oct 
39, sub: Women with the Army (Emergency). G- 
1/15839. 

47 (1) Ibid. (2) Personal Ltr, Col William Rose, 
AGO, to Col Lawrence Whiting, 11 Jun 40, for- 
warded to Hist Div WDSS, 1 1 Apr 45, sub: Compila- 
tion of WAC History. OCMH. 



16 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Meanwhile, numerous letters and tele- 
grams began to be receive/! from women's 
organizations and from individuals offer- 
ing their services. G-l Division now ex- 
pressed mild anxiety lest any of these 
women arrive in a theater of operations 
before they could be organized in some 
civilian corps under military control. With 
the collapse of France in May and June of 
1940 and the subsequent Battle of Britain, 
the offers of help redoubled. When in Sep- 
tember of 1940 the first peacetime Selec- 
tive Service Act became law, women's 
groups increased their demands that they 
be allowed to contribute to the nation's 
defense. By March of 1941 a change in 
tone could be noted in official statements. 
In a letter to an inquirer General Marshall 
stated: 

While the United States is not faced with 
an acute shortage of manpower such as has 
forced England to make such an extensive 
use of its women, it is realized that we must 
plan for every possible contingency, and cer- 
tainly must provide some outlet for the patri- 
otic desires of our women, 18 

The pressure of these patriotic desires 
was soon considerable. In Chicago, the 
Women's League of Defense, 17,000 
strong, set itself up as an agency for the en- 
rollment and classification of "women who 
can do anything helpful to replace a man 
in the event of war." In Los Angeles, the 
Women's Ambulance and Defense Corps 
trained women in military skills and per- 
sistently sought recognition as an Army- 
sponsored agency for training women offi- 
cers. In Pittsburgh, the Memorial Gold 
Cross First Aid and Ambulance Corps en- 
rolled 2,000 members. In Washington, 
D. C, the Green Guards stated that they 
had "contended, urged, and pleaded with 
the powers that be to include women in 
the national defense plan in some ca- 



pacity." In Ohio, the Toledo Unit of the 
Willys-Overland Women's Motor Defense 
Corps proposed to train women for duties 
with the Army. 

Many other such private organizations 
arose, most of them genuine, but a few 
spurious. G-2 Division was obliged to dis- 
continue replies from the Chief of Staff to 
organizations that had previously tried to 
convince the public that they had Army 
sponsorship. During these months, private 
citizens without number also wrote to the 
Army and to Congress offering their 
services. 49 

More significant than this sporadic ac- 
tivity was evidence that Congress or na- 
tional groups might act to set up women's 
units outside Army control, or with full 
military status. Congresswoman Edith 
Nourse Rogers reported herself ready to 
introduce a bill for full military status. 
The Air Corps requested a woman's vol- 
unteer defense corps for duty with its Air- 
craft Warning Service; as the War Depart- 
ment delayed, the Air Corps decided that 
a separate women's corps under its own 
control might be preferable. U.S. Army 
representatives in England also advised 
that a women's auxiliary would be neces- 
sary in the event that larger forces were 
sent overseas, since members of the British 
Women's Auxiliary Air Force and Auxil- 
iary Territorial Services could not be bor- 
rowed by the U.S. forces in sufficient 
numbers because of the British manpower 
shortage. 

From the White House came two infor- 



4B See entire file G-l/15839 (5-1 1-42), especially 
Memo, G-l for CofS, 13 Aug 40; and Ltr, CofS to Dr. 
John W. Colbert, 19 Mar 41. 

49 Examples are from: (1) Collection of ltrs and 
documents in G-l/15839-1 (5-1 1-42); and (2) Ru- 
pert Hughes, "Shall We Have a Women's National 
Guard?" Liberty, March 8, 1941. 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



17 



mal proposals. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt 
suggested that American women, like the 
British, be used in antiaircraft barrage 
work, a duty that was considered by some 
military planners as dangerously close to 
combat work. In a separate proposal she 
suggested a pool of women for service with 
the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as 
needed, but under the command of none 
of them; instead, it would possibly be un- 
der the Office of Civilian Defense, 
although members of Congress protested 
such action from the House floor because 
of the "miserable record of mismanage- 
ment" of that organization. 50 

Immediate impetus was supplied by 
Congresswoman Rogers, for many years 
an authority on legislation concerning 
women. Mrs. Rogers stated later, when 
asked her motives: 

My motives? In the first World War, I was 
there and saw. I saw the women in France, 
and how they had no suitable quarters and 
no Army discipline. Many dietitians and 
physiotherapists who served then are still sick 
in the hospital, and I was never able to get 
any veterans' compensation for them, al- 
though I secured passage of one bill aiding 
telephone operators. I was resolved that our 
women would not again serve with the Army 
without the protection men got. 51 

Mrs. Rogers later informed the House: "I 
have been nursing this measure along 
through the years." 52 

In the spring of 1941 Mrs. Rogers 
called upon the Chief of Staff and in- 
formed him that she intended to introduce 
a bill to establish a women's corps. Gen- 
eral Marshall replied, "Give me a week to 
consider it," and afterwards asked that 
the week be extended to a month. 53 

During this month the War Depart- 
ment plunged into furious planning for a 
bill that the Army could safely sponsor. 



The planners' motives were made clear in 
a staff memorandum from the Assistant 
Chief of Staff, G-l, who wrote: 

Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers has 
been determined for some time to introduce 
a bill to provide a women's organization in 
the Army. We have succeeded in stopping 
her on the promise that we are studying the 
same thing, and will permit her to introduce 
a bill which will meet with War Department 
approval. 

Mrs. Roosevelt also seems to have a plan. 

The sole purpose of this study is to permit 
the organization of a women's force along 
lines which meet with War Department ap- 
proval, so that when it is forced upon us, as 
it undoubtedly will be, we shall be able to 
run it our way. 54 

The resulting plan was the work of Col, 
James Taylor of G-l Division and, later, 
of Maj. Robert W. Berry. It provided for a 
Women's Army Auxiliary Force (WAAF), 
definitely a civilian auxiliary and not part 
of the Army. The plan's authors believed 
that it would avoid the errors made during 
World War I. They stated: 

The War Department initially made no 
provision for the use of women in the last war 
with the exception of the Army Nurse Corps. 



50 (1) Ltr, AC to TAG, 19 Mar 41. AG 324.4 (3- 
19-41). (2) D/F, G-l for AC, 8 May 41. G-l/15839- 
10, Pt 1. (3) Ltr, GHQ AF to CofAAF, 27 Dec 41, and 
subsequent documents. ACC 324.5 A WS (Women). 
AG 291.9 WAAC Sec 1, Pt 1. (4) [Henry G. Elliott] 
The Predecessor Commands, SPOBS and USAFBI, 
Pt I of The Administrative and Logistical History of 
the ETO, Hist Div USFET, 1946, MS, p. 255, 
OCMH. (5) Memos, Chief, Women's Interest Sec, 
WDBPR, for CofS, 14 Nov 41, and 9 Dec 41, sub: 
HR 4906. AG 291.9 WAAC Sec 1 Pt 1 (6-2-41). (6) 
Congressional Record, Vol. 88, No. 55, p. 2657, 17 Mar 
42.' 

31 Interv cited !"!!. 42(2)1 ; also Congressional Record, 
Vol. 87, No. 100, p. 4639, 28 May 41. 

r ' 2 Congressional Record entry cited n. 50(6). 
Interv cited |n. 42(27"] 

14 Memo, Brig Gen Wade H. Haislip, G-l, for 
CofS, 29 Apr 41. G- 1 / 1 5839- 10. Also in WA 320 
(5-29-41) DRB AGO. 



18 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



. . . However, the services of women were 
found to be so necessary overseas and in 
posts, camps, and bureaus in the United 
States that before the World War was over, a 
large group of women were serving with the 
Army in unorganized and uncoordinated 
groups, hastily and inefficiently recruited, 
under little if any discipline, and with no 
military status or recognition. "' 

Cited advantages of the plan included not 
only its greater controls but the fact that 
"it will tend to avert the pressure to admit 
women to actual membership in the 
Army." Cited disadvantages included not 
only the many special arrangements nec- 
essary for women's care but the fact that 
the corps would "inject many other un- 
predictable problems into military 
administration." 

Most of the General and Special Staff 
Divisions, when the plan was submitted to 
them for comment, agreed with G-l's 
reasoning. The name was changed from 
WAAF to WAAC, at the suggestion of The 
Adjutant General, because a parallel with 
the earlier British name was believed de- 
sirable, although Mrs. Rogers and other 
women advisers objected because of the 
sound and the similarity to the word wacky. 
G-4 Division concurred "in time of war 
only." 5fe 

Although The Surgeon General con- 
curred, the Director of the Army Nurse 
Corps, Maj. Julia Flikke, did not favor the 
bill, saying, "It is my opinion that the dis- 
advantages outweigh the advantages . . . 
complications would arise between that 
organization and other existing organiza- 
tions." She feared that it would inconven- 
ience citizens by causing "a dearth of 
domestic help" during the war and that 
"this organization necessarily would be 
composed largely of married women who 
would find it difficult to comply with 



regulations because of home ties, and 
would always need special consideration 
and no doubt there would be many who 
would object to regimentation." 57 Only 
the Judge Advocate General proposed full 
military status, fearing — all too accu- 
rately, as it later proved — legal complica- 
tions in an auxiliary. 58 

The Secretary of War rejected the plan 
at first sight, declaring it "premature," but 
upon learning the alternatives he acceded, 
being reassured by G-l Division that "if 
the organization of this force is authorized 
by law, it is the intention of the War De- 
partment to develop it slowly and by trial 
and error. It is not the purpose of the War 
Department to rush into this matter on a 
large scale." 59 

H.R. 4906 

On 28 May 1941 Mrs. Rogers intro- 
duced in the House of Representatives "A 
Bill to establish a Women's Army Auxil- 
iary Corps for Service with the Army of 
the United States." B0 She accepted auxil- 
iary status for the corps, saying: 

In the beginning, I wanted very much to 
have these women taken in as a part of the 
Army. ... I wanted them to have the same 
rate of pension and disability allowance. I 
. . . realized that I could not secure that. 
The War Department was very unwilling to 
have these women as a part of the Army. 61 



35 Memo, G-l for Cof'S, 31 Mar 41. G-l/15839- 
10. 

" Comments and concurrences are all in two 
bound files, G-l/15839-10, Pts 1 and 2. 

17 Memo, Supt ANC for Col Howard T. Wickert, 
9 Apr 41, atchd to Memo, SGO for G-l. 12 Apr 41. 
SGO 322.5-1 WAAF. 

Bound files cited n. 56. 
Memo cited ln~54l 
6 " HR 4906, 77th Cong, 1st sess, 28 May 4 1 . 
"' Congressional Record entry cited |n. 30(bfl 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



19 



She also correctly estimated Congressional 
temper as being at this time much opposed 
to any idea of full military status for 
women. 

H.R. 4906, as prepared by Major Berry 
and other officers of G- 1 Division, took 
fourteen printed pages to outline the ways 
in which the Corps did and did not differ 
from the Army. The WAAC was to be a 
corps of 25,000 women for noncombatant 
service; it was "not a part of the Army but 
it shall be the only women's organization 
authorized to serve with the Army, exclu- 
sive of the Army Nurse Corps." There fol- 
lowed a statement of its mission that was 
extremely significant, for it indicated a de- 
cision which was perhaps the most basic 
and vital of the Corps' history: the WAAC 
was established "for the purpose of mak- 
ing available to the national defense the 
knowledge, skill, and special training of 
the women of the nation." Deliberate em- 
phasis was placed on the utilization of a 
small number of skilled high-grade work- 
ers, instead of large numbers of unskilled 
low-grade personnel, as contemplated in 
earlier plans. Planners noted: 

The problem in the United States is not 
primarily one of utilizing women in the mili- 
tary service for the purpose of releasing man- 
power, but is one of utilizing women to 
increase the efficiency of the Army. ft2 

Both educational and technical qualifica- 
tions should be set exceptionally high to 
make of the projected organization an elite 
corps, in order that it may quickly attain the 
highest reputation for both character and 
professional excellence. 83 

Later developments were to make it 
appear that no one yet fully understood 
the tremendous implications which this 
decision would have in necessitating pro- 
cedures different from those for men, who 
were of course enlisted without any such 



selectivity as to skills and character. In 
fact, the same planners in a list of possible 
duties included jobs manifestly unfit for 
recruits of skill and education, such as 
charwoman and laundry worker. 

The bill neglected to spell out a point 
that had been clearly stated in earlier 
plans: the WAAC was to operate under 
Army command channels above the com- 
pany level. Instead, command responsibil- 
ity was publicly placed on a woman 
entitled Director, who was to "operate 
and administer the Corps in accordance 
with the normal military procedure of 
command." The Director was also to "ad- 
vise the War Department" and "make 
recommendations as to plans and 
policies." 

Endless legal distinctions were also at- 
tempted. Waacs were to receive medical 
service from the Army, but no medical or 
other benefits after discharge except those 
provided by the Employees Compensation 
Commission. They were considered mili- 
tary personnel for benefits of the Soldiers 
and Sailors Relief Act but not for benefits 
of the act granting re-employment rights, 
except for those who left Civil Service jobs. 
Most important, the extent to which 
Waacs could be disciplined was not clear. 
It was stated that Waacs were to be sub- 
ject to the Articles of War "when appli- 
cable," but it was to develop that no one 
then or later ever knew when they were 
applicable except in overseas areas. 

The bill was obliged to be specific on 
matters such as pay, allowances, grades 
and the numbers in each grade, travel 
pay, leave, and other points that were to 
be quickly outmoded by subsequent Army 

Memo cited | n. 55.| 
" Memo, Morale Br for G-l, 7 Apr 41. MB 320.2 
(3-31-41) WR. Copy with G-l/15839. 



20 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



legislation, thereupon requiring additional 
WAAC legislation. 

Still worse, the camouflaged grades 
were not strictly comparable to Army 
grades in either rank or pay and were to 
cause great confusion in finance and per- 
sonnel offices when the attempt was made 
to replace men on Army Tables of Organ- 
ization. Instead of lieutenants and cap- 
tains, the WAAC had third, second, and 
first officers. A first officer was comparable 
to a captain in duties and insignia but 
drew the pay of a first lieutenant; a second 
officer drew pay somewhere between a 
first and second lieutenant's; and a third 
officer was comparable to a second lieu- 
tenant, with pay of $1 ,500. 

Enlisted grades were still more confus- 
ing, with three grades of auxiliaries com- 
parable to the Army's two grades of 
privates and three grades of leaders in 
place of the Army's five grades of noncom- 
missioned officers. In addition there was 
to be a director, who was authorized the 
salary of $3,000, comparable to a major's, 
and a few assistant directors, who were to 
receive a captain's pay of $2,400. 

This bill after its introduction imme- 
diately sank from sight; it was not to be- 
come law for a full year. It was referred 
routinely to the Bureau of the Budget, 
which did not reply for four months. 
Meanwhile, G-l Division had reversed its 
previous stand and ventured the hope that 
the Chief of Staff would withdraw his sup- 
port or at least not commit himself until 
the Bureau of the Budget was heard 
from. fi4 

Nevertheless, the Chief of Staff, almost 
alone in the War Department, made it 
clear in the fall of 1941 that he had come 
to look on the bill with more than official 
approval. Mrs. Rogers noted that "Gen- 



eral Marshall now became very enthusi- 
astic about the bill." 65 Col. John H. 
Hilldring, soon to assume office as G-l, 
stated later: 

By the summer of 1941, General Marshall 
was intensely interested in the WAAC busi- 
ness. He foresaw a cycle of shortages; that of 
the moment was the supply shortage, in 
which the scarcity of supplies hindered mo- 
bilization, but he now became convinced 
that the bottleneck of the future would be 
that of manpower. He also considered the 
fact that war had become a complicated 
business which needed many civilian tech- 
niques, and that many of these were almost 
completely in the control of women. General 
Marshall asked me why we should try to 
train men in a specialty such as typing or 
telephone work which in civilian life has 
been taken over completely by women; this, 
he felt, was uneconomical and a waste of 
time which we didn't have. For example, the 
Army's telephone service had always had a 
reputation for being bad in spite of our 
superior equipment, and women operators 
could and did end all that. 

The Chief of Staff was also influenced by 
the fact that the ladies wanted in; he literally 
has a passionate regard for democratic 
ideals. 60 

General Marshall at this time told 
several of his staff members that, while he 
did not see any immediate need for large 
numbers of women in the Army, he would 
like to have authorization for a women's 
corps on his books so that, if the need for 
quick action should arise, the point of de- 
bate would be past. 07 This agreed with 
what he later wrote to Congress: 

64 Memo, Budget and Leg Ping Br for G-l, 18 Jun 
41, sub: Rpt on HR 4906. AG 291.9 WAAC sec 1 
pt 1 (6-2-41). 

B5 Interv cited |n. 42(2)1 

6(1 Interv with Gen Hilldring, 1 7 Jan 46. 

67 Ibid.; also, statement was made to Mrs. Hobby 
and repeated by her later to a Congressional commit- 
tee. House Com on Mil Affairs, 77th Cong, 2d sess, 
Hearings on HR 6293, 20-2 1 Jan 42, p. 33. 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



21 



I regard the passage of this bill at an early 
date as of considerable importance. In gen- 
eral, we have secured most of the legislation 
required for the complete mobilization of the 
Army so that we can go ahead with its devel- 
opment and definitely plan for the future. 
However, we lack Congressional authority 
for the establishment of a Women's Army 
Auxiliary Corps, and as a result can make 
no definite plans. Also, I am under con- 
tinued pressure from many directions regard- 
ing this phase of our preparations. 

It is important that as quickly as possible 
we have a declared national policy in this 
matter. Women certainly must be employed 
in the overall effort of this nation. . . . We 
consider it essential that their status, their 
relationship to the military authority, should 
be clearly established. 68 

The Chief of Staff therefore took per- 
sonal action to needle the agencies still 
brooding on the WAAC bill. Although the 
U.S. Civil Service Commission and the 
Employees Compensation Commission 
both had been persuaded by Mrs. Rogers 
to render favorable reports, the Bureau of 
the' Budget informed the War Department 
on 7 October: "It is not believed that the 
enactment of the proposed legislation, at 
least at the present time, should be con- 
sidered as being in accord with the pro- 
gram of the President." 69 The Bureau of 
the Budget stated, "There appears to be 
no need for a WAAC inasmuch as there 
will never be a shortage of manpower in 
the limited service field." 70 

In his attempts to get the measure past 
the Bureau of the Budget, the Chief of 
Staff employed a newcomer to the War 
Department, one of its civilian consult- 
ants, Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby. Mrs. 
Hobby had, in the summer of 1941, been 
"virtually drafted" to come to Washington 
to set up the new Women's Interests Sec- 
tion of the War Department Bureau of 
Public Relations, a section designed to 



furnish soldiers' wives and mothers with 
information that would reassure them 
about the living conditions of their drafted 
relatives. She had agreed to stay for not 
more than four months, or until the 
agency was functioning properly; any 
longer absence from home she considered 
undesirable in view of the fact that she 
had a husband and two children and was 
coeditor and publisher of a newspaper. 71 

General Marshall reported himself im- 
pressed with Mrs. Hobby's work in organ- 
izing a meeting, at which he spoke, of the 
national presidents of the twenty-one larg- 
est women's organizations, designed to 
secure their good will and assistance to the 
Army. 72 He therefore asked her to give the 
G-l planners any assistance on the public 
relations aspect of the WAAC bill that 
they might need. At the time of certain 
discussions with the President's wife, Gen- 
eral Marshall himself sent a handwritten 
note to G-l : "Please utilize Mrs. Hobby 
as your agent to smooth the way in this 
matter through Mrs. Roosevelt." 73 As a 
result, Mrs. Hobby was thoroughly famil- 
iar with the legislation and was appointed 

158 Ltr, CofS to Hon. John W. McCormack, 6 Feb 
42. CofS personal files. 

69 Ltr, Bur of Budget to SW, 7 Oct 41. AG 291.9 
WAAC sec 1 pt 1 (6-2-41). 

;o Quotation from Memo, Maj Berry for Gen Hais- 
lip, 2 Dec 41. WA 042.2 (12-2-41), DRB AGO. See 
also Memo, Mrs. Hobby for CofS, 2 Dec 41, sub: HR 
4906. CofS personal files. 

Tl Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 77lh Cong, 2d sess, 
Hearings on S 2240 , 6 Feb 42, p. 23. The Senate sus- 
pected that the office had been set up to lobby for the 
WAAC, with which it actually had no connection. See 
also Ltr, CG, Pacific Ocean Area (Lt Gen Robert C. 
Richardson, Jr., formerly with WDBPR) to Col 
Hobby, 12 Oct 44. WDWAC 320.2. Also see undated 
MS draft, The Mission That Grew. WDWAC 314.7 
(1945-46). 

72 Memo, Brig Gen Alexander D. Surles, Chief, 
WDBPR, for CofS, 13 Oct 41. CofS personal files. 

73 Memo, Chief, Women's Interests Sec for CofS, 
14 Nov 41, sub: HR 4906. AG 291.9 WAAC sec 1 
pi 1. 



22 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



GEN. GEORGE C. MARSHALL speaking to a meeting of the national presidents of the 
twenty-one largest women's organizations, 13 October 1941 . 



the only female representative of the War 
Department in negotiations with the 
Bureau of the Budget and in later Con- 
gressional hearings. 

In further efforts to get the WAAC bill 
past the Bureau of the Budget, General 
Marshall made a personal call and sent a 
highly favorable written report to the 
effect that "this legislation has great 
merit." Already overshadowed by the 
coming events at Pearl Harbor, the report 
on 25 November 1941 spoke of gaining 
"valuable time while time is available" in 
order to develop a small corps in an 
orderly and efficient fashion. 74 

On Thanksgiving eve General Marshall 
checked over with Colonel Hilldring the 
measures now completed to make the War 
Department ready for the gathering storm 



and, noting that WAAC legislation was 
still among the missing, directed him to 
omit no step to ensure its immediate pas- 
sage. Colonel Hilldring recounted later: 
"General Marshall shook his finger at me 
and said, 'I want a women's corps right 
away and I don't want any excuses!' At 
that, I displayed considerable energy." 75 
Colonel Hilldring's energy was shortly 
reinforced by that of the Japanese at Pearl 
Harbor. On 1 1 December, four days after 
Pearl Harbor, the Bureau of the Budget 
withdrew its objections. 76 The way was 
now clear to ask Congress for the orderly 



74 Memo, DCofS for Dir Bur of Budget, 25 Nov 41, 
sub: Proposed Revised Rpt on HR 4906. G-l/15839- 
10. 

75 Interv cited |n. 66. | 

78 Ltr, Bur of Budget to SW, 11 Dec 41. G- 
1/15839-10. Also in AG 291.9 WAAC sec 1 pt 1. 



FROM 1776 TO WORLD WAR II 



23 



and efficient development of a small 
women's corps capable of expansion in 
wartime. 

When later criticism came to be leveled 
against the agencies and individuals who 
failed, in the five months now left before 
the passage of the bill, to anticipate and 
prevent every problem of the new organ- 
ization's development, they were able to 



note in reply that they were attempting in 
one hundred and fifty days, and in the 
midst of events that dwarfed the WAAC 
in importance, to settle problems which 
twenty-three years of leisurely planning 
had not succeeded in solving. "Woman's 
ignorance" and "man's intolerance" had 
now come together in the fatal combina- 
tion of Major Hughes' prophecy. 



CHAPTER II 



Establishment of the WAAG 



From the date of Pearl Harbor onward, 
plans for a women's corps moved with a 
speed unequaled in the past decades. The 
Secretary of War sent his approval of the 
WAAC bill to Congress on Christmas Eve. 
By the last day of 1941 Mrs. Rogers had 
incorporated the War Department's pro- 
posed amendments into the bill and rein- 
troduced it as H.R. 6293. The Navy 
Department occasioned some delay while 
it tried to persuade the War Department 
not to sponsor the corps. Finally the As- 
sistant Secretary of War in person suc- 
ceeded in persuading the Navy to with- 
draw "their objections to our endorsing 
it." Navy personnel chiefs flatly refused to 
make the project a joint one, informing 
Colonel Hilldring, "You are going to take 
a beating and we'll wait to see what 
happens." 1 

Congressional consideration was rapid 
but rough. "It was a battle," said General 
Hilldring later. "In my time I have got 
some one hundred bills through Congress, 
but this was more difficult than the rest of 
the hundred combined." 2 Opposition was 
felt more on the floor of the House, and in 
the cloakrooms, than in the Committees 
on Military Affairs. At the committee 
hearings Mrs. Rogers emphasized the pro- 
tective and disciplinary aspects of the 
measure. 

The only real issue at these hearings was 
that of militarization versus civil service. 



Army spokesmen offered reassurance that 
Waacs would be used only where civilians 
were unobtainable, or where security re- 
quired military personnel, and would 
never under any conditions displace a 
Civil Service employee. One powerful ar- 
gument was advanced by the Air Corps, 
which asserted that twenty-four-hour 
daily security in the Aircraft Warning 
Service could not be achieved with civilian 
volunteers and that, unless Waacs could 
be obtained, there would be actual danger 
to the east coast, especially the capital. 3 

Much of the work of steering the bill 
was personally handled by Col. Ira P. 
Swift of the War Department. The com- 
mittees moved with what Mrs. Rogers felt 
was unprecedented speed. The House 
hearing on 20 January was followed by the 
committee's approval on 28 January, by 



' (1) Ltr. SW to Chmn, House Com on Mil Affairs 
24 Dec 41. AG 291.9 WAAC sec 1 pt 1. (2) Memo, 
ASW for Hilldring, 21 Dec 41. G-l / 15839- 1 0. (3) 
Intcrv with Maj Gen John H. Hilldring, 17 Jan 46. 
Confirmed by interv with Mrs. Rogers, 14 Dec 45, 
and by First Draft Narrative, U.S. Naval Administra- 
tion in World War II: Bureau of Naval Personnel, 
Women's Reserve, 18 January 1946. Dir of Naval 
History. (Hereafter cited as WAVES Hist.) 

2 Interv with Gen Hilldring cited n. 1(3). 

1 All refs to com hearings are from: (1) House Com 
on Mil Affairs, 7 7th Cong, 2d sess, Hearings on HR 
6293, 20- 21 Jan 42; (2) House Rpt 1705, 77th Cong, 
2d sess, 28 Jan 42; (3) Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 
77th Cong, 2d sess, Hearings on S 2240 , 6 Feb 42; (4) 
Senate Rpt 1051, Calendar 1086, 77th Cong, 2d sess, 
9 Feb 42. 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAG 



25 



Senate hearings on 6 February, and com- 
mittee approval on 9 February. There 
were no really angry remarks, although 
there were a few such as "You are going to 
have a few generals, aren't you? . . ." 
"No, the women 'generals' will remain at 
home"; or "Are you going to start a matri- 
monial agency?" Eventually the hearings 
ended in a blaze of gallantry on the part of 
the Southern senators. 

Next, the bill stuck in the House Rules 
Committee for some days. General Hill- 
dring said later: "In all my experience 
with legislation, I had never before had a 
bill stick in the Rules Committee, but they 
refused to report it out. I spent three hours 
talking to them; I never confronted a 
colder audience." Mrs. Rogers added, 
"The Rules Committee was rough." Its 
members eventually yielded, stating that 
they dared not oppose their opinions to the 
Chief of Staff 's on the matter of measures 
required for the national defense. 4 

When the measure finally reached the 
House floor the real opposition developed. 
Members argued that a soldier would go 
forward in battle even if his buddy was 
shot down beside him, but if his buddy 
was a woman he would stop and render 
first aid. Others declaimed, variously: 

I think it is a reflection upon the coura- 
geous manhood of the country to pass a law 
inviting women to join the armed forces in 
order to win a battle. 

Take the women into the armed service, 
who then will do the cooking, the washing, 
the mending, the humble homey tasks to 
which every woman has devoted herself? 

Think of the humiliation! What has be- 
come of the manhood of America? 5 

It was General Hilldring's opinion that 
the bill was saved from immediate defeat 
at this time only by the personal support 
and prestige of the Chief of Staff. The 



Secretary of War likewise threw his sup- 
port behind the measure. Nevertheless, it 
eventually became clear that, at best, pas- 
sage would be delayed for some weeks 
while other more important war measures 
took precedence. 15 

The Appointment of WAA C Pre-Planners 

Meanwhile, War Department planning 
was racing to keep ahead of the bill's esti- 
mated rate of progress. Forty-five days 
were lost in December and January before 
it was decided to secure an officer with 
wide experience and acquaintance in the 
War Department to establish and guide 
the new corps. He was to have the title of 
Pre-Planner, WAAC, and was to operate 
from a floating position in G-l Division in 
order to secure necessary action from all 
other agencies. Such an officer was not im- 
mediately available in the War Depart- 
ment, and G-l brought in from the field 
and temporarily assigned Lt. Col. Gilman 
C. Mudgett, ordering him to "build a fire 
under WAAC planning." 7 Colonel Mudg- 
ett was a Cavalry officer with twenty 
years' experience in the Regular Army, 
and an expert in Advanced Equitation. 
Most of his experience had been as a 
squadron officer with mounted units and 
as an instructor at the Cavalry School; he 



1 Intervs citec ( n. 1 [3J ; also Memos, Chief, Budget 
and Leg Ping Br, for Secy, WDGS: (I) II Feb 42, 
sub: HR 6293; (2) 19 Feb 42, sub: WAAC; (3) 26 
Feb 42, sub: Leg Proceedings. G-l/15839-10 

(7-8-42). 

5 All from Congressional Record, Vol. 88, No. 55, 17 
Mar 42. 

15 House Rpt cited |n. 3(21 

7 (1) Ltr, Col Mudgett to Miss Faustine Dennis, LI 
Feb 42; (2) Ltr Orders, AG 210, G-l Gen Stf (1-13- 
42). Both in Col Mudgett's Stay-backs, 1942 WAAC 
files. (Hereafter cited as Mudgett Staybacks.) (3) 
Interv with Lt Col Harold P. Tasker, 20 Nov 42. 



26 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



had never been assigned to the War De- 
partment until two weeks before he be- 
came WAAC Pre-Planner.* 

Colonel Mudgett found that very little 
information could be furnished him by the 
War Department, most of that outdated. 11 
Except for copies of the legislation, he was 
provided with little more than a statement 
that civilian employees were hard to get in 
such places as Pig Point, Va., and Mata- 
gorda Island, Tex. 1 " 

The problem at the time looked decep- 
tively simple: The WAAC was to be a 
small organization, developed slowly. A 
director, and perhaps five assistant direc- 
tors, and one hundred officer candidates 
would be appointed. Colonel Mudgett 
called the local YWCA to locate one hun- 
dred rooms for the officer candidates, who 
would attend a leisurely three months' 
course before enlisted women — called en- 
rolled women or auxiliaries — were ad- 
mitted, The War Department proposed to 
get its first enrolled women from among 
volunteers already working at Aircraft 
Warning Service stations, placing them in 
uniform and paying them for their rations 
and quarters so that they could continue 
to live at home — thus, incidentally, re- 
peating the first mistake that British serv- 
ices had made. After the Aircraft Warning 
Service companies were filled, it was 
thought there would be ample time to 
consider the ten other companies which 
were to go to corps areas. 11 

Colonel Mudgett had one assistant, 
Mrs. Marjorie Fling, selected by Civilian 
Personnel Division because of her famil- 
iarity with War Department procedure 
and her desire to join the WAAC when it 
was established. Mrs. Fling set to work at 
once to compile WAAC Regulations, 
based on CCC Regulations and Canadian 
and British WAAC Regulations.' 2 



On his first day of operation, the WAAC 
Pre-Planner, as directed by the War De- 
partment, distributed WAAC planning 
among the various staff agencies of the 
War Department, informing each of its 
responsibility: 

To The Adjutant General's Office: WAAC re- 
cruiting. All administrative functions per- 
formed for the Army. 

To The Quartermaster General: WAAC uni- 
form, design, and procurement. WAAC in- 
signia. WAAC equipment. 

To the Judge Advocate General: Disciplinary 
regulations. 

To The Surgeon General: Medical treatment 
for women. 

To the Chief of Finance: Fiscal responsibility. 

To G-3: WAAC training and training regu- 
lations. WAAC organization. 

To G-4: Housing and supply policy. Tables 
of Basic Allowances. Burial. 

To the Air Forces: Organization and training 
of Aircraft Warning Service units. 

Each of these agencies was asked to desig- 
nate a representative for WAAC planning. 
The instructions to these agencies did not 
specify their relationship to any future 
WAAC headquarters or who would have 
the final word in disputes. 1 ' 

On the same day corps areas were asked 

* Personnel Abstracts, WAC files, OCMH. 

9 He later noted. "As I look back, I would have 
given a great deal to have had access to the back- 
ground material that you [Military History] have 
collected. . . . The widely scattered data were ap- 
parently on file, but unfortunately . . . not made 
available to me." Ltr, Mudgett to author, 19 Aug 49. 
OCMH. 

1,1 Pencil note, Swift to Mudgett. WA 600.9 
(1-20-42), 1942 WAAC files. 

11 All statements unless otherwise specified are 
from Mudgett Staybacks. Original copies of most 
documents are in G- 1/15839-10. See references to 
specific documents in following pages. 

12 (1) Memo, G-l for Dir of Pers, 28 Jan 4-2. 
G-l/15839-10. (2) Interv with Mrs. Marjorie Fling 
Onthank, 16Jan 46. 

13 Memos, G-l for [each office], 4 Feb 42, sub: 
WAAC. G-l/15839. Replies are in G-l/15839-10 
(7-8-42). 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



27 



to plan for the use of one WAAC company 
each, and chiefs of branches were asked to 
comment on the possible later use of 
Waacs at their service schools. Letters to 
these commands included a statement on 
which the War Department was later to 
reverse itself: Waacs could be assigned to 
replace not only enlisted men but "civilian 
employees not in the Civil Service now 
used for purely administrative or house- 
keeping duties." 14 

It was not yet decided whether Waacs 
counted against a station's Troop Basis, or 
its civilian allotment, or both; most sta- 
tions understandably assumed that Waacs 
constituted some sort of happy bonus. 
Also, the previous decision that the Army 
needed a small elite corps with high cleri- 
cal skills was nullified by the authorization 
to use Waacs to replace non-Civil Service 
civilians, most of whom were unskilled. 
Consequently, corps area requisitions later 
that month asked for Waacs not only for 
skilled clerical and technical work but also 
for work that it was difficult to get civilians 
to accept: jobs as maids, charwomen, 
janitresses, cooks, mess attendants, mes- 
sengers, hostesses, mail orderlies, house- 
keepers, and hospital attendants. 

As a result of the double misunder- 
standing — that Waacs would be recruited 
for unskilled menial duties and that they 
would not count against personnel allot- 
ments — not too much significance could 
be attached to the corps areas' enthusiasm 
in at once requesting not ten but twenty- 
four WAAC companies. On the other 
hand, all of the chiefs of branches, includ- 
ing infantry, cavalry, and artillery, re- 
plied that they wanted none: "Strongly 
advise that they not be assigned." The 
Chief of Engineers asked to be excused 
from taking a unit. The Surgeon General 
refused to use Waacs in hospitals, saying, 



"Can see no use for a WAAC unit without 
displacing Civil Service employees." 15 No 
attempt was made to force a unit upon 
any reluctant command, since there would 
obviously not be enough Waacs to fill even 
the current requisitions. 

In only a few days WAAC preplanning 
had the requisite fire under it. Uniform 
designs were being prepared by The 
Quartermaster General; The Adjutant 
General was converting Army blank 
forms and records for WAAC use; the 
Judge Advocate General was preparing 
tentative disciplinary regulations; the Sig- 
nal Corps and the Air Corps were plan- 
ning Aircraft Warning Service companies. 
Colonel Mudgett suggested that a female 
director and staff of three male officers be 
appointed at once, and action to secure 
these was begun by G-l. Within another 
ten days Colonel Mudgett had obtained 
rough drafts of WAAC Regulations, was 
working with G-4 on barracks plans, had 
consulted the Office of The Surgeon Gen- 
eral on the enlistment physical examina- 
tion, and had planned recruiting with The 
Adjutant General. In four more days he 
had made plans for press releases on the 
appointment of the Director and had se- 
cured G-3 approval of a training center 
Table of Organization. 16 

14 D/F, G-l to TAG, 5 Feb 42, sub: WAAC. 
G-l/15839-10. Branches included were Infantry, 
Cavalry, Field Artillery, Coast Artillery, Engineers, 
Air Corps, Armored Forces, Quartermaster Corps, 
and Medical Department. 

15 Tally of replies is preserved in Folder U, (Utili- 
zation), Col Tasker's files, in 1942 WAAC files. (Here- 
after cited at Tasker files.) 

16 (1) Memo, Preplanner for Col Oscar B. Abbott, 
6 Feb 42; (2) Memo, Preplanner for Maj Gen James 
A. Ulio, 1 1 Feb 42; (3) Memo, Preplanner for Lt Col 
Lester D. Flory, G-4, 11 Feb 42; (4) Memo, Preplan- 
ner for Col Harry D. Offutt, SGO, 13 Feb 42; (5) 
M/R, Conf with Col Harold N. Gilbert, AGO, 13 
Feb 42; (6) Memo for Col Abbott, 19 Feb 42. All in 
Mudgett personal or scayback files, 1942 WAAC 
files. 



28 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Planning could not await the appoint- 
ment of the Director, WAAC, and in fact 
planners deemed it wise "to be able to pre- 
sent [completed plans] to the Director, 
when appointed, in order to avoid the ini- 
tiation of plans based entirely on the view- 
point of one individual." By 23 February 
1942, when the future Director was added 
to the preplanning group, many plans 
were too far advanced for much change 
without controversy with the planning 
agency. By this date the WAAC Regula- 
tions were already written and approved 
by G-3 Division, as was the outline of in- 
struction for the officer candidate school. 
Budget estimates had already been for- 
warded to the War Department, and the 
Finance Department had virtually com- 
pleted all fiscal rules. A Table of Organi- 
zation had been drawn up for WAAC 
Headquarters, showing the numbers and 
grades of persons required, as had similar 
tables for WAAC companies and platoons. 
The Army Recruiting Service believed it- 
self prepared to conduct recruiting. G-4 
Division was convinced that WAAC hous- 
ing would present no great problem. 
Finally, a request had been submitted for 
the assignment of an experienced Regular 
Army officer to act as school com- 
mandant. 17 

Other matters awaited the Director's 
action. No location had been found for a 
training center; no uniforms or other 
clothing had been procured; no actual re- 
cruiting machinery was set up, although 
it was suggested that the Director make a 
transcontinental tour and personally se- 
lect the first one hundred officer candi- 
dates. The future WAAC Headquarters 
had not been organized, although a major 
and two lieutenants had been ordered in 
for immediate assistance. 18 



All of the Pre-Planner's work, complete 
or incomplete, suffered from being based 
on the War Department's assumption as 
to the WAAC's future size, which was to 
be discarded later in the summer when 
manpower problems began to appear. It 
was supposed that the Corps would, dur- 
ing its first year, train only 10,600 auxil- 
iaries and 340 officers — a miscalculation 
of some 600 percent. Most of the plans, 
therefore, shortly had to be revised or 
abandoned, but, as General Hilldring 
later noted, they were not without value, 
being in the same category as all military 
"anticipatory planning." 19 

Selection of a Director 

G-l Division demanded that all candi- 
dates for the position of WAAC Director 
be healthy, of an active temperament, be- 
tween the ages of 30 and 50, with execu- 
tive experience involving the successful 
management of both men and women as- 
sistants, and, most important, they must 
have had no previous affiliation with any 
"pressure group." 

Mrs. Hobby, then of the Bureau of Pub- 
lic Relations, was asked to recommend 
women who met these requirements. She 
submitted a list of nine that included some 
of the nation's most successful career 
women — an advertising executive, a busi- 
ness manager, a bank president, several 
educators. Social and political leaders 
were not included. Congresswoman 
Rogers was also asked to recommend 

IT (1) Quotation from Memo for Col Flory, G^4, 
1 1 Feb 42. Mudgett Staybacks. (2) Memo. Preplanner 
for Dir WAAC, 23 Feb 42. 1942 WAAC file, unnum- 
bered. (3) Memo, CofS for G-l, 26 Feb 42. CofS/ 
19481-60. 

ls Earlier draft of Memo cited n. 17(2). 
19 Ltr, Hilldring to Maj Gen Orlando Ward, Chief, 
Mil Hist, 5 Jan 51. OCMH. 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



29 



candidates; she submitted only one 
name — Mrs. Hobby's. G-l Division like- 
wise submitted its own list of candidates to 
the Chief of Staff, and this included three 
names, headed by Mrs. Hobby's. Colonel 
Mudgett also approved of the recom- 
mendation, commenting later: "I have 
never known a finer executive, man or 
woman." 20 

Biographical data compiled by G-l 
added that Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby was 
at this time 37 years old, the wife of former 
Governor William P. Hobby of Texas, and 
the mother of two children. She had served 
for several years as parliamentarian of the 
Texas legislature, and, after her marriage, 
as newspaper and radio executive, pub- 
lisher, lawyer, writer, president of the 
Texas League of Women Voters, and civic 
worker in numerous state and city organi- 
zations of both men and women. As of this 
date she had been for almost a year the 
chief of the Bureau of Public Relations' 
Women's Interests Section, which she had 
initiated and organized. 

For a number of reasons the War De- 
partment's final choice fell upon Mrs. 
Hobby. She had the advantage over all 
other recommended candidates of already 
being familiar with WAAC plans and with 
War Department organization. Officers of 
G-l Division wrote: "She has ability, 
vision, and is broad-minded enough to as- 
semble a staff of capable assistants around 
her. [She is] already known to most of the 
key people in government and War De- 
partment circles." 21 

All acquaintances noted her personal 
energy, magnetism, sincerity, and ideal- 
ism, and observed that a very considerable 
diplomatic ability on all matters was com- 
bined with a certain stubborn determina- 
tion in pursuing major issues. Another 
asset, from the Army viewpoint, was that 



Mrs. Hobby was not a representative of 
any pressure group, as it was deemed es- 
sential that the Director owe allegiance 
only to the War Department. The Chief of 
Staff informed the Secretary of War that 
Mrs. Hobby was his choice for the position 
of Director solely because of her brilliant 
work in the Bureau of Public Relations 
and in negotiations for the WAAC bill, 
and that "I had never seen, or even heard 
of, Mrs. Hobby prior to this time, and she 
had no prior knowledge of the bill." He 
added: 

In all of these duties she displayed sound 
judgment and carried out her mission in a 
manner to be expected of a highly trained 
staff officer. She has won the complete confi- 
dence of the members of the War Depart- 
ment Staff with whom she has come into con- 
tact, and she made a most favorable impres- 
sion before the Committee of Congress. 

. . . This Corps can be of great assistance 
to our military effort, and it can easily be a 
great embarrassment to the War Depart- 
ment. I therefore urge the appointment of 
Mrs. Hobby, with the request that the deci- 
sion be made in advance of the completion of 
the legislation in order that the War Depart- 
ment can anticipate the burdens of organiza- 
tion so far as possible. 22 

Mrs. Hobby was not considered disquali- 
fied by the fact that she had children, 
since women with children were to be ac- 
cepted for immobile units like the Air- 
craft Warning Service, where they could 
live at home. 23 



20 (1) Memo, G-l for CofS, 3 Feb 42, sub: Dir 
WAAC. G-l/ 15838. Three lists are Tables A, B, and 
C. (2) Ltr, Col Mudgett to author, 19 Aug 48. 
OCMH. 

21 Memo, Chief, Misc Div G-l, for Gen Hilldring, 
29 Jan 42, sub: Suggested Candidates for Position of 
Dir WAAC. Mudgett Staybacks. 

22 Memo, CofS for SW, 18 Mar 42, sub: Chief of 
WAAC. WDCSA 291.9 (3-18-42). 

Inte rv with Mrs, Hobby, 29 Jun 48. Also see Ch. 
|XXXV,| below. 



30 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Meanwhile, a number of prominent po- 
litical figures, including members of Con- 
gress, had acquired their own candidates, 24 
and G-l Division urged speed in the ap- 
pointment of a director, since "efforts will 
be made by certain pressure groups to in- 
fluence the Secretary of War in his ap- 
pointment of the Director." 25 

At the end of February, when no an- 
nouncement from the Secretary of War 
was forthcoming, the Chief of Staff took 
upon himself the responsibility of moving 
Mrs. Hobby from the Bureau of Public 
Relations to join the WAAC Pre-Planners, 
although in view of her lack of official 
status all planning done by her was sub- 
ject to reversal later if another candidate 
was selected by the Secretary of War. 28 

Organization of Director's Headquarters 

Mrs. Hobby now found herself in a 
strange status; she was the unannounced 
head of a nonexistent office which could 
not become WAAC Headquarters until 
passage of legislation at an uncertain fu- 
ture date, but which meanwhile must per- 
fect very complete plans requiring the 
formal co-ordination of many War De- 
partment agencies. Her "staff" was one 
Cavalry lieutenant colonel and one civil- 
ian woman assistant. This little group be- 
gan meeting in a corner of the Miscellane- 
ous Branch of G-l Division, but later in 
March acquired several rooms and a tele- 
phone in the wooden Temporary M 
Building. 

On 27 February, a few days after Mrs. 
Hobby's arrival, the man who had been 
intended to be WAAC Pre-Planner, Lt. 
Col. Harold P. Tasker, arrived. Colonel 
Tasker was a Regular Army officer, with 
fifteen years' service in the Coast Artillery 
Corps and as instructor in mathematics at 



West Point. He had been retired for disa- 
bility in 1939 but later recalled on limited 
service. Although he had never previously 
served in the War Department, all mem- 
bers of the new group stated that his out- 
standing ability quickly rendered him 
invaluable. 27 

With Colonel Tasker came two young 
Reserve lieutenants, just called to active 
duty, who had no Army experience. 28 For 
almost a month these six constituted the 
headquarters. About the middle of March 
the office acquired its senior member, Col. 
William Pearson, who was selected by 
The Adjutant General to be WAAC adju- 
tant general. Colonel Pearson was the 
only member of the staff who had previ- 
ously served in Washington. His service 
was not recent; he had been retired in 
1936, after more than thirty-four years in 
the Regular Army, and had just been re- 
called to active duty. Shortly, four more 
officers arrived to complete the military 
staff. Two of these were lieutenant colonels 
who were intended to be school com- 
mandant and quartermaster, respectively, 
but both were replaced within a few 
months. 29 The third was Maj. J. Noel 
Macy of the Bureau of Public Relations, 
on temporary loan to handle publicity, 
and the fourth was another young Reserve 
lieutenant. 30 

Mrs. Hobby also secured the services of 
two women advisers. Mrs. Genevieve 
Forbes Herrick, a prominent writer and 
newspaperwoman, was designated adviser 



2 * Ltrs, G-l/15839-10 (1942). 

25 Memocited ln. I20(l).| 

26 Memo cited |n. 22J 

27 Intervs with members of the group: Mrs. Hobby, 
Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Fling, Mrs. Genevieve Forbes 
Herrick, 

38 Lts. Charles L. Fleming and Henry Lee Munson. 
2i > Interv with Col Tasker, 20 Nov 45. 
30 Lt. William W. Foulkes. 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



31 



on public relations and the press. Mrs. 
Helen Hamilton Woods was named ad- 
viser on legislative matters, recruiting, and 
administration in general. Mrs. Woods, 
who was later to enroll in the WAAC, was 
the widow of New York Police Commis- 
sioner Arthur Woods, and the mother of 
three sons in the service. A civic leader and 
political worker, and a descendant of the 
first Secretary of the Treasury, she had 
had much experience with volunteer 
groups and had been employed by the 
Treasury in connection with the informa- 
tion program for defense bond sales. 31 

Assignment to Services of Supply 

Planning was somewhat hampered 
when the little group of WAAC preplan- 
ned was immediately dropped two 
echelons in the War Department during 
the reorganization of 9 March 1942, one of 
the major upheavals of War Department 
history. At this time the entire General 
Staff was reduced in size and bereft of op- 
erating functions, and the many organiza- 
tions reporting directly to it were swept 
away, leaving direct access to the General 
Staff a privilege of three new major com- 
mands — the Army Air Forces, the Army 
Ground Forces, and the Services of Sup- 
ply (later renamed the Army Service 
Forces). Many of the chiefs of services who 
had formerly reported directly to the 
Chief of Staff — such as The Adjutant 
General, the Judge Advocate General, 
and The Quartermaster General — now 
were grouped under the command of the 
Services of Supply (SOS), which was to be 
the operating agency for the General 
Staff. 

The WAAC was similarly transferred 
from G-l Division to Personnel Division 
of the Services of Supply, and directives 



drafted by WAAC preplanners henceforth 
had to be signed by that office rather than 
by Brig. Gen. John H. Hilldring in G-l. 
Few of the transferred agencies were very 
happy about the change. WAAC planners 
in particular realized its disadvantages, 
since they no longer had the close guid- 
ance of the General Staff during the Corps' 
formative period, and could not reach it 
with any ideas that were disapproved by 
the Services of Supply. The move made it 
particularly difficult to work directly with 
the Army Air Forces or the Army Ground 
Forces. 

The legality of the Director's assign- 
ment to this lower echelon was somewhat 
doubtful, since the wording of the WAAC 
bill made her adviser to the War Depart- 
ment. At the time of the move the Chief of 
Staff therefore directed Mrs. Hobby to 
come to him personally if she had any dif- 
ficulty that she could not iron out by her- 
self. This privilege Mrs. Hobby used 
infrequently, since she understood that the 
Services of Supply would scarcely be a 
comfortable location if she bypassed its 
channels whenever her proposals were 
disapproved. 

From this time onward General Mar- 
shall was consulted only when crucial de- 
cisions were required. The new and 
smaller General Staff also obviously had 
less time to advise the planners. At one of 
its meetings, the WAAC was dismissed 
with the brief and overoptimistic note that 
its administration would be the same 
whether it was in or with the Army; the 
same meeting was devoted to dozens 
of more important matters involved in 
the world-wide combat situation. Never- 
theless, WAAC planners united in giving 
great personal credit to the Assistant Chief 

31 Intervs with Mrs. Herrick, 9 Jan 46, and with 
Mrs. Woods, 14 Dec 45. 



32 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



of Staff, G-l, General Hilldring, for the 
fact that in the following hectic weeks they 
actually did complete full plans, workable 
if not perfect. General Hilldring repeat- 
edly stepped down from his echelon to 
give planners more of his personal time 
and advice than the small WAAC organ- 
ization could have expected from its cur- 
rent importance to the war effort. 32 

The Services of Supply immediately 
delegated WAAC planning to the various 
SOS divisions, in much the same way that 
this once had been divided among War 
Department staff sections. For example, 
the SOS's Training Division received 
authority to establish policies for the train- 
ing of all WAAC officers, auxiliaries, and 
units. In actual practice, the general na- 
ture of the subsequent WAAC plans was 
worked out in joint conferences, put in 
writing by the preplanners, and approved 
by various SOS Divisions. 33 It was not 
made clear what procedure would be fol- 
lowed if disagreements occurred. 

The British Parallel 

Mrs. Hobby's first step was to pause and 
assess the experience of the British and 
Canadian women's services, already well 
established. 34 During the first days of 
March she visited Canada, accompanied 
by Colonel Tasker and the commandant- 
elect, and was afforded the opportunity to 
talk to leaders of the Canadian WAC and 
of the Women's Division, Royal Canadian 
Air Force, as well as to British women 
officers then visiting Canada. She also 
later dispatched Major Macy to England 
to collect references and histories. 

The visit did much to restore Mrs. 
Hobby's morale, which had been de- 
pressed by the opinion of many of her 
friends among older U.S. Army officers 



that a women's corps could not succeed. 
Every Canadian staff officer and post 
commander to whom she talked told her 
that he had experienced initial doubts but 
was now enthusiastic about employment 
of women in his command. British officers 
likewise reported the success of their 
women's services in spite of extensive early 
hardships. 35 

The histories of the several British and 
Canadian women's services presented pat- 
terns so nearly identical as to suggest a 
certain amount of inevitability, with the 
British, of course, one or two wars ahead. 
Before and during World War I, the Brit- 
ish had set up a few tentative women's 
corps, on a civilian auxiliary basis. Man- 
power problems had proved so great, and 
the women such efficient workers, that by 
1918 such groups were to be found in 
every branch of service. The only handi- 
cap had been the very considerable public 
gossip concerning the alleged immorality 
of women in France, which hampered re- 
cruiting and alarmed parents, although a 
Royal Commission of Enquiry reported 
after investigation that the charges were 
"mischievous and false." 

Nevertheless, when the British women's 
services were revived in World War II, 
they repeated the whole unhappy pattern 

39 (1) Interv cited |n" m\ and from study of whole 
series of documents and orders cited. (2) Min, Gen 
Council, 4 May 42. 

53 1st Ind, Dir Tng SOS to WAAC Preplanners, 25 
Apr 42, to Memo, Preplanners for Dir Tng SOS, 15 
Apr 42, sub: Preliminary OCS. SPTRS 353 WAAC 
(4-15-42). 

: " Unless otherwise indicated this section is based 
upon, and quotations are from: (1) Report of the Com- 
mittee on Amenities and Welfare Conditions in the Three 
Women's Services, Presented to Parliament by Command of 
His Majesty, August, 1942 , (London: HM Stationery 
Office, 1942). Hereafter cited as Conditions in the Three 
Women's Services. Copy in 1942 WAAC files. (2) 
Wadge, Women in Uniform. 

35 Interv cited ln. 29] 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



33 



as far as public opposition was concerned. 
"Vague and discreditable allegations" 
were spread to such an extent that a Par- 
liamentary committee investigation was 
ordered. Gossip alleged a high rate of il- 
legitimate pregnancy, excessive drinking, 
and general promiscuity among service- 
women, The committee upon investigation 
found that the women's morality was 
actually better than that of the compar- 
able civilian population, and deplored the 
"malicious and careless talk" that had 
again damaged recruiting and discour- 
aged women members and their parents. 

The British Auxiliary Territorial Serv- 
ices (ATS) and the Women's Auxiliary Air 
Force (WAAF) had also suffered in the 
first days of World War II from difficulties 
caused by rapid mobilization — shortage of 
uniforms, inadequacy of housing, im- 
proper medical attention, all intensified 
by the lack of trained and experienced 
women officers to care for the units. By 
1942 many difficulties had been overcome, 
supply shortages had eased, gossip had 
been partially quelled, and the women's 
work had proved so valuable that their 
numbers had been tremendously in- 
creased and their jobs expanded from five 
or six to several hundred. Finally, when 
manpower conditions became more des- 
perate and recruiting failed to fill needs, 
the British National Service Act was ap- 
plied to women and female draftees were 
directed to fill the vacancies in the armed 
forces. 

At the time of Mrs. Hobby's visit to 
Canada in March of 1942 the British serv- 
ices were thus well established and offered 
a valuable precedent to the WAAC in the 
United States. WAAC planners might 
have regarded their history with even 
more interest had they known that it 
could, without alteration, have been a 



summary of the WAAC's future, in all ex- 
cept the matter of eventual recourse to 
Selective Service. 

One major effect of the Canadian visit 
upon the headquarters was that it became 
what its members called "public-rela- 
tions conscious." All future plans came to 
be scrutinized in the light of their possible 
effect upon public sentiment, and extreme 
care was used to avoid any measure that 
might provoke an outburst of slander and 
gossip of the type that had hindered Brit- 
ish recruiting and necessitated the draft- 
ing of women. This tendency was deplored 
by some Regular Army members of the 
staff, since it frequently raised the issue of 
whether certain established Army prac- 
tices were adaptable to the WAAC. 

Another conspicuous lesson in the his- 
tory of the British services was that the 
civilian auxiliary organization was not- 
ably inefficient and friction provoking. 
Already two of the three major British 
women's services had been admitted to 
full military status. In Canada Mrs. 
Hobby noted that the Women's Division 
of the Royal Canadian Air Force, which 
was actually in the Air Force, had fewer 
administrative difficulties than the Cana- 
dian WAC, which was only an auxiliary 
with the Army. Most commanders heartily 
disliked separate command channels, sep- 
arate rules, and separate status for any 
members of their station complements 
and, in fact, the Canadian WAC was to be 
admitted to full Army status within a few 
months, and the Women's Royal Cana- 
dian Naval Service, just being organized, 
never attempted to operate without full 
Navy membership. 36 

Mrs. Hobby therefore proposed that an 
amendment immediately be added to the 



Ibid. 



34 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



WAAC bill before its passage, placing the 
WAAC in the Army and giving its mem- 
bers full military status and discipline. 
The War Department was not enthusiastic 
about this change and Mrs. Rogers ob- 
jected also, on the assumption, which 
proved quite correct, that the attempt 
would merely delay the bill's passage and 
would not be accepted by Congress even 
after the delay. 37 Nevertheless, Mrs. 
Hobby insisted that the amendment at 
least be considered by the committee, and 
consideration was finally agreed upon, a 
step that was to delay passage of the bill 
until May. 38 

Recruiting Plans 

The British precedent was also quickly 
reflected in other plans, primarily those 
for the selection of officers. Mrs. Hobby 
and Colonel Mudgett at once discarded 
previous plans for her to appoint assistant 
directors and to select one hundred officer 
candidates. The number of applications 
now on file from individuals with promi- 
nent social, political, or military figures for 
sponsors indicated that, were appoint- 
ments direct, the WAAC might be forced 
to repeat the British ATS mistake of com- 
missioning these women in such numbers 
that forced retirements would later be 
necessary. The ATS had come to the con- 
clusion that selection by means of officer 
candidate boards and schools was the best 
way to produce women officers able and 
willing to care for their troops effectively. 
Accordingly, Mrs. Hobby formed a basic 
policy from which she was never thereafter 
to swerve 361 — that of Corps democracy: all 
officers, even assistant directors, were to be 
graduates of the officer candidate school 
and not direct appointees. After the first 
class, all officers would come from the 



ranks. Mrs. Hobby also decided at the 
same time that selection of the initial class 
should be by impartial Army recruiting 
machinery, and not by herself or any 
other individual. Negroes were to be in- 
cluded in the same proportion as in the 
Army. 40 

Preplanners hastily prepared and sent 
to the printers detailed instructions for 
corps areas to follow in selecting officer 
candidates. Mrs. Hobby secured the ad- 
vice of a conference of eight prominent 
psychiatrists, as well as that of The Adju- 
tant General's battery of test construction 
experts, to determine qualifications and to 
help devise a method of screening. All 
corps areas were alerted to expect instruc- 
tions and application blanks by air mail, 
immediately upon passage of the bill, and 
were given a military schedule whereby 
date of passage was designated D Day. 
The first officer candidates were to be se- 
lected and at the school by D plus 47. 41 

The WAAC D Day now bore down 
upon the pre-planners. The WAAC bill 
passed the House of Representatives on 1 7 
March by a vote of 249 to 86, authorizing 
an auxiliary corps only, and was sent to 
the Senate, which had promised to con- 
sider full Army status. 12 

Public interest mounted daily. Planners 
hid themselves away and answered the 



!V Interv with Mrs. Rogers cited |n. 1(3)| . 

38 See text below for full discussion of War Depart- 
ment and other views in May committee hearings. 

SB Sec later chapters for discussion. 

'" (1) Interv cited ! n. 29.| (2) Conditions in the Three 
Women's Services. (3) Memo, G-l for CofS, 22 Mar 42. 
G-l/15839, in CofS 291.9. 

41 (1) Ltr. TAG to all Corps Areas, 16 Mar 42. AG 
291.9 (3-16-42) E-R, (2) Memos, SOS for TAG, 17 
Mar 42. G- 1 / 1 5839- 10. (3) Rough notes of confof 
psychiatrists. 1942 WAA C files, unnumbered. (4) 
Interv cited |n. 29| (5) See lCh. Ill , below. 

*- Congressional Record, Vol. 88, No. 55, p. 2657, 17 
Mar 42." 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



35 



telephone with a vague "Personnel Divi- 
sion," but were nevertheless plagued with 
telephone calls, visitors, letters, and unso- 
licited offers. Candidates sought guaran- 
tees of commissions because of their 
acquaintance with prominent people, or 
their dubious experience in bossing 
women; individuals sought to interest the 
WAAC in mobile laundry units or fur- 
lined overcoats. 43 Prospective recruits 
wrote, variously: "My husband is already 
drafted and my mother cannot afford to 
have me staying on . . ."; "My brother 
was killed on December 7"; "I have al- 
ways wished that I were a man"; "I am a 
widow, with no dependents"; "At present 
I am working as a warder at the Women's 
Reformatory." 44 

This was only a foretaste of the merci- 
less publicity that was to haunt the WAAC 
from its inception. In desperation the 
planners ordered thousands of acknowl- 
edgment cards thanking applicants for 
their offers and telling them that, if the 
bill became law, full details would be re- 
leased through local recruiting stations. 40 
Considerable embarrassment appeared in 
store if the WAAC D Day arrived before 
the War Department was ready with plans 
for it. 

Search for a Training Center 

For several frantic weeks it appeared 
impossible to find a training center. The 
idea of a CCC camp was considered and 
abandoned, since extensive additional 
construction and repair would have been 
necessary. Premature rejoicing was gen- 
eral-early in March when the Tome 
School, a private institution in nearby 
Maryland, was found to be available. Un- 
fortunately, G-3 Division ruled that no 
contract could legally be signed until the 



bill became law. The Army's complicated 
machinery of approval moved as far as it 
dared — budget estimates were made, an 
engineer survey for barracks space was 
authorized, acquisition of property was 
approved. After serious study of the rela- 
tive fame of American heroines it was 
recommended that the school be named 
the Molly Pitcher School. Detailed grades 
were even allotted to the Third Service 
Command and personnel was being se- 
lected. All of these plans collapsed sud- 
denly in the last week of March when the 
Navy acquired the Tome School. 46 

Immediate passage of the bill was now 
believed possible, with April occupancy of 
some school a necessity. Army engineers 
hastily surveyed Northwestern University 
and found it full of naval trainees; Lake 
Forest College had a capacity of only 400; 
the University of Chicago was filled by the 
Navy and the Signal Corps, and Ohio 
State by the Air Corps; Eastern Kentucky 
State Teachers College would not take 
Negroes. 

As the search continued through other 
areas, it was found in general that all large 
universities were training so many Army 
and Navy technical specialists that even 
their gymnasiums and classrooms were 
converted to barracks; all small colleges 



13 Ltrs of application. 1942 WAAC files, unnum- 
bered. 

14 Congressional Record, Vol. 88, No. 53, pp. 1078-81, 
Mar 42. 

15 Memo, Preplanners for TAG, 31 Mar 42, sub: 
Acknowledgment Cards for WAAC Applicants. 
Mudgett Staybacks. 

« ( 1) Memo, G-3 for CofS, 19 Apr 42. WDGCT 
291.9 (4-15-42). Copy in CofS 291.9. (2) Memo, G-l 
forG-4, 7 Mar 42. G-l/15839-10. (3) D/F, Pers Div 
SOS to CofEngrs, 1 1 Mar 42. Same file. (4) Memo, 
Pers Div SOS for CofS, 13 Mar 42. Same file. (5) 
Memo, SOS for TAG, 28 Mar 42. Mudgett Stay- 
backs. (6) Corps areas became service commands in 
the reorganization of 1942. 



36 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



could accommodate only a few trainees; 
and most suitable resort hotels either had 
been taken over by the Air Forces or 
would have had to be condemned at a 
prohibitive price. Engineers as a last re- 
sort surveyed even state fair grounds, but 
found them either leased for government 
storage or not convertible. For a time the 
National Chautauqua Circuit at James- 
town seemed the best possibility, although 
isolated and in a cold climate. 47 

At last, in late April, the mechanization 
of the U.S. Cavalry made possible the use 
for Waacs of an old mounted Cavalry post, 
Fort Des Moines in Iowa. Fort Des Moines 
was near the geographical center of the 
United States, had no major defense pro- 
jects in the area, would present no race 
and color difficulties, had suitable utilities 
to handle expansion to 5.000 population, 
and already had room for 1,000 and suit- 
able administration, supply, and recrea- 
tion buildings. Its solid red-brick barracks, 
needing only converted toilet facilities, 
surrounded an impressively large green 
parade ground. In addition, said the de- 
lighted planners, there were "nine large 
stables suitable for conversion to bar- 
racks." 48 Time was short and there was no 
inclination to quibble about the distance 
from WAAC Headquarters, the climate, 
or the previous equine occupants. 

Immediate authority to start alterations 
at the post was sought, but could not be 
obtained until passage of the bill. 49 It was 
at least possible to bring into the planning 
group nine Army officers to be indoc- 
trinated before they went to Fort Des 
Moines as a nucleus of the staff. To replace 
the officer previously selected as com- 
mandant, G-l Division chose Col. Don C. 
Faith, a Regular Army officer of twenty- 
five years' service. He had been a National 
Guard instructor and a staff officer, and 



later a member of the War Department's 
G-4 and G-l Divisions. 3 " 

The Uniform 

The most troublesome problem remain- 
ing to the planners was that of the WAAC 
uniform, which soon assumed a difficulty 
out of all proportion to its importance. 
Procurement could not be undertaken un- 
til passage of the bill, but it was essential 
to have agreement on design and number 
of articles so that contracts could be signed 
with manufacturers at the moment the bill 
became law. At first, the problem of cloth- 
ing only 12,000 Waacs appeared fairly 
simple, and The Quartermaster General, 
in one of the greater understatements of 
recorded military history, anticipated "no 
unusual difficulties." 

Three agencies sent representatives to 
planning sessions: The Quartermaster 
General's Office, the Philadelphia Quar- 
termaster Depot, and WAAC Headquar- 
ters, although The Quartermaster General 
later decided that this last was a mistake, 
since "neither she [Mrs. Hobby] nor any- 
one on her immediate staff was qualified 
to make decisions." 5 - As a matter of fact, 

17 (1) Personal ltr, Tasker to Lt C. M. Carr, Cooks 
and Bakers School, Ft Meade, Md., 21 Mar 42. Col 
Tasker's personal file, 1942 WAAC files. (2) M/R, 
9 Apr 42, sub: Inspection of Available Sites. WA 
600.9 (4-9-42). (3) M/R, 1 1 Apr 42, sub: Facilities. 
WA 600.9. 

« Memo, G-l for CofS, 22 Apr 42. G-l/15839. 
Colonel Mudgett successfully persuaded Des Moines 
newspapermen to ignore the conversion of stables to 
barracks Tor fear of the possible effect upon recruiting. 

■> f < Memo, G-l for CofS, 13 May 42, sub: Estabof 
WAAC Tng Cen at Ft Des Moines, Iowa. WDGAP 
352.01 WAAC. Approved by DCofS, 15 May 42. 

'•" Personnel Abstracts. WAC file, OCMH. 

1,1 All references to WAAC clothing and equip- 
ment, unless othervvise noted, are from Erna Risch, 
A Wardrobe -for the Women ofthe Army (QMC Historical 
Studies 12, October 1945). 

''- Ibid., Chs. II and III. 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



37 



none of the planning agencies included 
any specialists in women's clothing. The 
Quartermaster General had been respon- 
sible for the design and procurement of 
nurses' uniforms since World War I, but 
no great quantity had been involved, and 
the products, although they photographed 
well on a dress form (male), had admit- 
tedly always looked peculiar on the female 
figure. 

Responsibility for the WAAC uniform 
program was delegated by The Quarter- 
master General, as a part-time duty, to 
Col. Letcher O. Grice of the Standardiza- 
tion Branch. Before Mrs. Hobby's arrival, 
Colonel Grice had secured some sketches 
by famous designers, and had suggested 
that the uniform be in two shades of blue. 
Because of the word distinctive in legislative 
authorization for a WAAC uniform, Colo- 
nel Grice was of the opinion that the uni- 
form must be different in color and design 
from that of the Army or any other organ- 
ization; even the two shades of blue must 
be different from that of the Army Nurse 
Corps. Blue was selected because New 
York designers informed him that blue 
dyestuffs would be most readily available; 
gray was rejected as too hard to match. 

The representative of the Philadelphia 
Depot was not summoned by The Quar- 
termaster General until some three 
months of planning were past and, upon 
arrival, expressed some annoyance in view 
of the depot's opinion that research and 
development was its rightful province. 
This officer also was not a specialist in 
women's clothing, and expressed a strong 
belief in "nothing fancier for Wacs than 
for combat soldiers," which threatened to 
leave the women equipped for office work 
in boots and coveralls. 

The WAAC representatives at this time 
likewise included no clothing specialists 



and in any case had no authority to take 
action in the matter. Female members of 
Mrs. Hobby's staff faithfully wore sample 
undergarments while carrying on pre- 
planning; male planners offered their best 
guesses in the matter, and the staff became 
accustomed, as one member noted, "to 
seeing Lt. F. stalk through the office with 
a cigar in one hand and a pair of pink 
panties in the other." 

Mrs. Hobby at once announced her 
conviction that the WAAC uniform should 
be identical in color with that of the Army 
and as much like it in design as possible, 
especially in view of her pending attempt 
to place the WAAC in the Army. The bat- 
tle of blue versus olive drab continued for 
some time and was finally resolved by the 
Philadelphia Depot, which wished to use 
olive drab and khaki material already 
procured, and deemed it madness to start 
procuring two more shades of blue. The 
materials, covert and barathea for winter 
and 8.2 khaki for summer, were also de- 
termined by depot stocks, although some, 
especially the khaki, were to prove too 
heavy for the proper fit of women's 
garments. 

Sketches from well-known designers 
were considered — Mangone, Maria Krum, 
Russell Patterson, Helen Cookman, Mary 
Sampson. The jacket could be called a 
group product, since it incorporated de- 
sirable features from all designs — a lapel 
from one, a pocket from another. A belt 
for the jacket was on, off, and on again: it 
would help faulty female figures, said 
Mangone; it would rub holes in the jacket, 
said The Quartermaster General; it should 
be leather, said Maria Krum; cotton was 
cheaper, said The Quartermaster General. 
A rather narrow six-gore skirt was 
adopted after War Production Board re- 
strictions on the use of material made 



38 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



pleats impossible, although all agreed that 
pleats would have looked better. 

Slacks had originally been a part of the 
outfit, but they were eliminated as too 
troublesome to fit; culottes were consid- 
ered and rejected by Mrs. Hobby as un- 
suitable for mechanics. Since at this time 
it was believed that the only outdoor work 
that Waacs could perform was in motor 
transport, no trousers except coveralls 
were believed necessary. Mrs. Hobby also 
desired that women wear skirts instead of 
slacks wherever possible, in order to avoid 
a rough or masculine appearance which 
would cause unfavorable public comment. 

All agreed that a shirt with tie would be 
more military and dignified than one with 
an open collar, and the regulation khaki 
tie was chosen, although some designers 
favored an ascot. 

The choice of WAAC headgear in- 
volved most controversy then and later. 
The Quartermaster General had suggested 
a stiff service cap like the men's cap for 
WAAC officers and an overseas cap for en- 
listed women, with a brimmed khaki sum- 
mer hat, but Mrs. Hobby called for identi- 
cal hats for officers and enlisted women, as 
being more democratic. The overseas cap 
was becoming, but was then being adopted 
by many women's volunteer groups and 
private service organizations. Mrs. Hobby 
believed that it was essential to have a 
WAAC cap that could not be mistaken for 
that of any civilian group or, more pre- 
cisely, that it was essential that the Waacs 
not be blamed for any misconduct on the 
part of the thousands of civilian women 
soon to be wearing overseas caps. The 
firms of Knox and Stetson therefore sub- 
mitted designs of "miner" hats, visor caps, 
and berets. A majority vote of the confer- 
ence selected the visor cap as one that 
would shield the eyes, not blow off in pa- 



rades, and be both distinctive and military. 

A heavy topcoat was designed by Man- 
gone, very similar in cut to the men's 
overcoat. In place of the men's field jacket, 
a light utility coat was designed by Maria 
Krum, resembling a hooded raincoat with 
button-in lining. A handbag with shoulder 
strap was authorized, since women's uni- 
forms obviously had no pants pockets, and 
experiments with carrying necessities in 
breast pockets quickly produced a rule 
against even so much as a pack of ciga- 
rettes in that location. 

Tan oxfords, tennis shoes, galoshes, and 
bedroom slippers were selected. Mrs. 
Hobby recommended plain pumps for 
dress shoes, but was outvoted on grounds 
of economy. She also desired lisle stockings 
for dress, but only rayons were available; 
and plain cotton stockings for work were 
chosen instead of the novelty-ribbed cot- 
ton she preferred. 

There began to be apparent at this 
time a significant difference of opinion as 
to the number and type of garments to be 
issued. By accepted practice, the Army 
was obligated to furnish its members any 
articles it required them to wear. This 
clothing, in the Director's opinion, had to 
be judged according to accepted civilian 
custom for females, but in the opinion of 
most quartermaster representatives could 
most fairly be based on the amount and 
type of clothing received by men. Thus, 
concerning what were called "foundation 
garments," it was noted that some women 
required these in order to present a "neat 
and military appearance," yet could not 
be directed to wear them unless the gar- 
ment was issued — an action without mili- 
tary precedent. Similarly, it appeared to 
be discrimination against men to issue free 
pajamas and bathrobes, yet it was also not 
desired to authorize nude female appear- 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



39 



ances in the various military installations 
that did not have connecting latrines. As 
for the required physical training, men re- 
ceived nothing similar to the seersucker 
exercise dress, yet it appeared undesirable 
for women to assemble on the drill field in 
nothing but panties. In this last case, it was 
luckily noted that Waacs, except for a few 
women drivers, did not receive the fatigue 
coveralls that men did; thus, the seer- 
sucker dress could be accepted as a non- 
discrimatory substitute for men's cover- 
alls. On most of the other items, authori- 
zation was not made until June and was 
withdrawn again in a few months. 

The Quartermaster General reduced 
some of the requested allowances to the 
number authorized for men; the WAAC 
request for eight shirts was reduced to four. 
The request for six cotton dresses and six 
cotton aprons for cooks, and four coveralls 
for drivers, was reduced by The Quarter- 
master General to three, three, and two. 
In requesting two uniform jackets, pre- 
planned pointed out that men received 
heavy wool shirts to be worn without a 
jacket, but that the WAAC's thin cotton 
shirts were designed for wear with the 
whole suit, and that "cleanliness, good 
health, and appearance" required two suit 
jackets. However, only one jacket was 
finally authorized, since men got only 
one. 58 

The Heraldic Section of The Quarter- 
master General's Office meanwhile had 
submitted designs for insignia. Designers 
were initially somewhat at a loss, since in- 
signia usually portrayed the function of 
the corps concerned and no one knew ex- 
actly what the Waacs were to do, except 
that they would perform several Army 
jobs. A first attempt produced only a busy- 
bee-like insect, which Mrs. Hobby pro- 
nounced a bug, adding that she had no 



desire to be called the Queen Bee. 

Designers then hit upon the idea of a 
head of Pallas Athene, a goddess asso- 
ciated with an impressive variety of wom- 
anly virtues and no vices either womanly 
or godlike. She was the goddess of handi- 
crafts, wise in industries of peace and arts 
of war, also the goddess of storms and 
battle, who led through victory to peace 
and prosperity. 5 ' Accordingly, the head of 
Pallas Athene, together with the tradi- 
tional U.S., was selected for lapel insignia, 
cut out for officers and on discs for en- 
listed women. 

An eagle for the cap was also designed, 
less intricate than the Army eagle and 
later to be familiarly known to Waacs, for 
reasons closely connected with its appear- 
ance, as "the buzzard." Since Army but- 
tons could not be used for an auxiliary 
corps, the WAAC eagle was also to be im- 
printed on plastic buttons. Only the in- 
signia of grade required no planning; it 
was to be the same as the Army's, with a 
tab lettered WAAC sewed under the 
chevrons. 53 

Housing Plans 

Plans for housing were less urgent, since 
field companies would not be ready for as- 
signment for several months. On the basis 
of British experience and of her confer- 
ences with psychiatrists, Mrs. Hobby 

33 All from: (1) Memo, OQMG for G-l, 3 Jun42. 
SPQRR 421. Copy in SPWA 421. (2) Memo, Dir 
WAAC for OQMG, 5 Jun 42. SPWA 400.34 (3-21- 
42)(1) sec 1 (1943). (3) Memo, Lt. W. W. Foulkes for 
Dir WAAC, 20 Jun 42. Same file. (4) Memo, OQMG 
for USW, 16 Sep 42. Folder, WAC Recruiting, ASF 
Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

54 Personal ltr, Brig Gen Clarence Weems to Field 
Artillery Journal January 1943. 1942 WAAC files WA 
600.9. 

55 Memo, Dir Mil Pers SOS for G-l, 23 May 42. 
G-l/15839-10, in SPWA 421 (5-16-42) sec 1. 



OFFICERS 




WAAC INSIGNIA 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



41 



feared that women might not react to 
communal living exactly as did men. 
While men were accustomed from child- 
hood to the tribal living of scout camps, 
gangs, teams, and clubs, no one could pre- 
dict the results of the deprivation of pri- 
vacy on women who were at all inclined 
to be nervous — particularly since most 
men's units remained only temporarily at 
any camp before overseas shipment, 
whereas a WAAC unit would settle down 
in its barracks for several years. 

Mrs. Hobby therefore proposed that 
Waacs have dormitories of the type used 
to house civilian women workers, with two 
persons to a room. She was quickly over- 
ruled on this point on the grounds of econ- 
omy and feasibility; housing plans had 
already been made that would use existing 
barracks, with minor modifications, or 
new construction like the old. 

Allocation of Units 

Only one major phase of planning re- 
mained: that of the composition of units 
and their allocation. It was decided that 
post headquarters companies would con- 
sist of 147 auxiliaries and 3 officers, and 
that Aircraft Warning Service companies 
would be somewhat smaller. Any unit un- 
der 50 members was deemed uneconomi- 
cal. The problem was how to devise a fixed 
company with one Table of Organization 
that would suit all stations, since not all 
could use the same number of typists, 
drivers, or other workers. 

Already the Army had realized that the 
fixed Table of Organization Company, 
while excellent for combat units, was not 
the proper means for allotting men to sta- 
tions in the United States, where no two 
stations had exactly the same needs. Colo- 
nel Mudgett later noted, "The bulk allot- 



ment system would have saved us many a 
headache on this problem." Unfortu- 
nately for the WAAC, the bulk allotment 
system was not yet adopted by the Army, 
and preplanners were forced to try to set 
up an inflexible T/O unit that would meet 
the needs of all stations using Waacs. One 
table for filter companies and one for op- 
eration companies was set up. For the 
more difficult post headquarters unit, 
planners hit upon the idea of having five 
types of platoons: clerical, communica- 
tions, service, machine records, and mis- 
cellaneous. It was believed that almost 
any station, large or small, could meet its 
needs by requesting the proper assortment 
of platoons in its WAAC company. 56 

Concerning the disadvantages of this 
system in eventual use, Colonel Faith said 
later: 

Post commanders didn't have the remotest 
idea as to what they wanted to use women 
for. . . . Their recommendations were stud- 
ied, integrated into a type WAC company. 
. . . I am amazed that we did as well as we 
did. We set up a semi-rigid organization 
based upon ideas from the field, which in 
turn were based on poor guess-work, which 
the field accepted from us as being authorita- 
tive and scientific, which it was not. These 



56 (1) Ltr, Mudgett to author, 19 Aug 48. OCMH. 
(2) T/O 35-37, WAAC Filter Co, AWS, 4 Jul 42; 
T/O 35-67, WAAC Opns Co, AWS, Regional, 4 Jul 
42; and T/O 35-12. WAAC Post Hq Co, 26 Aug 42. 
The Clerical Platoon had 10 stenographers, 30 typists, 

15 postal clerks, etc.; the Communications Platoon 
included 18 switchboard operators; Service included 

1 6 chauffers; Machine Records had various machine 
operators; Miscellaneous had housekeepers, motion 
picture projectionists, etc. For later modifications, 
see M/T 35-2018, 14 Dec 42, WAAC Post Hq Co; 
M/T 35-2026, 26 Nov 42, WAAC Bn; M/T 35-2137, 
WMC Photo Lab Co, Aerial; M/T 35-2022, 26 Nov 
42, and change 1, 9 Jan 43, WAAC Hq Co; M/T 35- 
2122, 10 Dec 42, WAAC Post Hq Co, AAF. (3) D/F, 
G-3 to CG SOS, 11 Apr 42. WDGCT 291.9 (4-11- 
42). (4) D/F, G-l to TAG, 6 May 42. WDGAP 320 
WAAC. 



42 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



tables provided for relatively few jobs for 
women — overhead, clerical, motor transport, 
service. 17 

Corps areas that had asked for Waacs 
were now requested to specify the assort- 
ment of platoons desired in a T/O unit, 
and planners optimistically proposed to 
recruit skills exactly to specification, since 
a woman with no skill or with some odd 
skill would not fit into any platoon and so 
could not be assigned. Only skilled women 
were sought; it was not proposed to waste 
time by taking women who needed techni- 
cal training — except a brief course in 
army driving, army cooking, or army 
clerical work to help adapt civilian skills 
to the military. 

Although supposedly soothed by the as- 
surance that no WAAC post headquarters 
units would arrive for some time, or until 
further warning, many station com- 
manders now became extremely nervous, 
and it was decided that Colonel Tasker or 
some other representative of the group 
must visit each designated station to pre- 
pare it for Waacs. In carrying out this in- 
doctrination, Colonel Tasker later found 
many stations in a state of virtual siege, 
throwing up barbed-wire entanglements 
around WAAC areas and setting aside 
separate nights for Waacs to use post the- 
aters and service clubs, so that men and 
women could be kept isolated from each 
other. Many post commanders were found 
to be much opposed to having Waacs on 
the post, and none of course had as yet any 
information as to the proper employment 
of such a unit. 58 

WAA C Regulations 

The WAAC Regulations, which had 
been prepared in G-l Division before 
Mrs. Hobby's arrival, were ready for pub- 



lication as soon as the bill became law. As 
provided in the Rogers bill, the WAAC 
was set up as a separate command entity 
headed by the Director. The Corps was to 
be assigned to the Services of Supply, in 
which its headquarters was located, with 
its units only attached for duty to the Air 
Forces and other stations where they were 
employed. 

The Director would at first command 
all of these units directly, requesting The 
Adjutant General to issue her orders for 
assignment, transfer, discharge, or other 
change in status. As soon as they could be 
trained, regional directors would be sent 
out to form an intermediate command 
echelon. It was decided that the regional 
directors would be nine in number and 
would be located in the headquarters of 
the nine corps areas in order that they 
might use the area facilities. 

For a unit in the field, the station where 
it was located was responsible only for 
furnishing supplies, housing, and medical 
and dental care. As for the authority of 
Army section chiefs, the Regulations 
stated: 

Officers and noncommissioned officers of 
the Army under whom individuals or groups 
or units of the WAAC are assigned for work 
tasks have supervisory authority as they 
would with civilian employees generally, but 
have no disciplinary authority. Derelictions 
of duty will be reported to the WAAC officer 
commanding." 

The WAAC company commander and 
higher WAAC officers were specified as 
responsible for discipline, promotion, dis- 
charge, and other command matters. 



; '< Speech to Meeting of" Classification Offs. Min in 
SPWA 201.6 (9-18-43). 
5S Inter*" cited l n. :T57\ 
5U WAAC Regulations (Tentative), 1942. 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



43 



For a time there was consideration of 
removing these powers from WAAC 
Headquarters and delegating them to the 
regional directors or even to the company 
commanders, since for Army men powers 
such as discharge were already held at the 
station level. However, for men the correct 
procedures were set forth in detail in 
Army Regulations, thus insuring uniform 
action and individual justice Army-wide. 

Because of the Waacs' civilian status, 
these Army Regulations could not always 
be applied, particularly in matters of dis- 
cipline — in which court-martial was not 
possible except overseas — and of dis- 
charge — since certain types of discharge 
could be given only by courts-martial. 
Neither was it possible to make the first 
WAAC Regulations as full as Army Regu- 
lations, which had been built up over a 
period of years. 

The first WAAC Regulations were 
therefore marked Tentative and were 
scheduled for amplification as soon as ex- 
perience permitted. To permit such ampli- 
fication, it was directed that all discharge 
cases and other personnel actions be sent 
to WAAC Headquarters for decision, until 
a sufficient body of experience existed to 
permit publication of detailed regulations. 
Until this time, Mrs. Hobby noted that it 
would be unsafe to allow action at the sta- 
tion level, since one woman officer would 
be made both accuser and judge, con- 
trary to the American system. 60 

In the exercise of its command preroga- 
tives, WAAC Headquarters proposed to 
be extremely cautious. It was directed that 
women be sent only to stations where 
housing and other arrangements had been 
checked upon by Colonel Tasker or 
another staff member; that no unit of less 
than fifty women be assigned, in order 
that supply and inspection would not be 



unduly difficult; and that no enlisted 
woman be sent to any station unless a 
WAAC officer was located there. 81 

By April several agencies had already 
begun to question this system. G-3 Divi- 
sion, which had previously approved the 
regulations, now declared in conference 
that Army commanders should have com- 
plete control of WAAC units on their sta- 
tions, transferring them in the United 
States or overseas without informing the 
Director, and discharging, disciplining, or 
promoting, presumably under Army 
Regulations, since no other detailed ones 
existed. Also, G-3 proposed that the com- 
mand of a company be divided among the 
different Army section chiefs for whom the 
women worked, rather than vested in the 
WAAC company commander. 62 

The Signal Corps concurred, fearing 
that the Director might use her command 
powers arbitrarily to remove women from 
vital communications work; it was as- 
serted that the British Signal Corps had 
experienced many difficulties in employ- 
ing servicewomen who were with and not 
in the Army. Air Forces representatives 
supported these views and also objected to 
the Corps' location in the Services of Sup- 
ply. 03 If command authority was given to 
them, the Signal Corps proposed to place 
women at once in mixed tactical groups 
overseas, without a WAAC company com- 

These principles were incorporated in all subse- 
quent WAAC Regulations. First ref to them seems to 
be Memo, Tasker for Dir WAAC, 2 1 May 42. Tasker 
Staybacks. 

61 (1) Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 7 7 th Cong, 2d 
sess, Hearings on HR 6293, 1 and 4 May 42. (2) Con- 
gressional Record. Vol. 88, No. 81, p. 3821. 

6 - Memo, G-3 for G-l, atchd co Memo, G-l for 
Mil Pers Div SOS, G-3, G-4, WAAC, TAG, CofFin, 
JAG, SG, 29 Apr 42. WDGAP 320 WAAC (4-29- 
4-2). 

« ;i Memo, SigCfor Dir Pers SOS, 4Jun 42. G-l/ 
15839-10 (7-8-42) WAAC. (2) Memo cited n. 60. 



44 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



mander, and the Air Forces announced 
plans to assign an additional 10,000 
women in mobile units of its Terrestrial 
Service. 

It soon became clear that the heart of 
the difficulty was the auxiliary system it- 
self. As predicted, it was plainly about to 
prove most objectionable to Army com- 
manders if they could not at once exercise 
as full authority over women as over men, 
or if they were obliged to apply different 
regulations to men and women. On the 
other hand, to apply Army Regulations to 
a civilian auxiliary corps was clearly ille- 
gal. As for her own position as Director, 
Army advisers informed Mrs. Hobby that 
it would be unsafe to accept that office if 
G-3's plan prevailed, since she would be 
in the militarily impossible situation of 
having responsibility without authority. 
Thus, the WAAC's auxiliary status made 
her legally responsible for the women's 
command and well-being, yet she would 
actually be ignorant of where they had 
been transferred or what financial, supply, 
disciplinary, or other measures were being 
taken by station commanders. 64 

By 3 April the WAAC preplanners con- 
sidered the situation so confused that they 
appealed directly to the Chief of Staff, 
stating: "Confusion exists as to the inter- 
pretation of the Bill which says: 'The Di- 
rector shall operate and administer the 
Corps in accordance with normal military 
channels of command and administra- 
tion.' " 65 The Chief of Staff upheld the 
WAAC preplanners by signing their draft 
of the WAAC Regulations and approving 
it for publication if the bill giving the 
WAAC auxiliary status should pass. 

This verdict had the effect of uniting 
the Services of Supply with Mrs. Hobby 
in supporting the amendment to place the 
WAAC in the Army. The WAAC's imme- 



diate superiors in the Services of Supply in 
fact opposed the separate command sys- 
tem so strongly that they neglected to 
prepare the necessary War Department 
circulars that would make the WAAC 
Regulations binding upon the Army in 
the event that the amendment failed. 66 

Passage of WAA C Bill 

In their drive to complete plans before 
passage of the legislation, all echelons 
were seriously handicapped by uncer- 
tainty as to the type of bill that would pass 
Congress. After the WAAC bill had passed 
all committees and the House, thus vir- 
tually assuring it of passage in some form, 
the Navy had introduced a bill to estab- 
lish the WAVES in the Navy and not as an 
auxiliary. 

True to prediction, the brunt of argu- 
ment had been borne by the WAAC, and 
the WAVES bill passed the House without 
difficulty. It seemed only reasonable that 
Congress would approve the amendment 
to place women in the Army. The un- 
happy planners were therefore forced to 
make two sets of plans: one for an auxil- 
iary and one for an Army corps. Two 
versions of regulations were prepared and 
approved by nine interested agencies. 
Fourteen different agencies were asked to 
reconsider their plans in the light of the 
possible adoption of the amendment, and 
some, like the Judge Advocate General, 



S4 Ibid. (1) M/R, sub: Conf Concerning WAAC 
Admin, 24 Jun 42. Col Tasker's file of rough drafts, 
under "WAAC Hqs Org," 1942. (2) Memo, AG 
WAAC for CofAdm Serv SOS, 27 Jun 42. WA 210.31 
(6-4-42). 

85 Memo, Preplanners for CofS, 3 Apr 42, sub: 
Responsibility for Opn of WAAC. G-l/15839-10. 

5B Memo, Dir Mil Pers SOS for G-l, 20 Apr 42, 
sub: Amendment to HR 6293. G-l/1 5839-10 WAAC 
(7-8-42). 



ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAAC 



45 



replied despairingly that none of their 
previous plans would apply. 67 

In spite of support from the Services of 
Supply and Mrs. Hobby, the War De- 
partment was unable to push the amend- 
ment for equal status. Comment on the 
floor of the House of Representatives was 
unrestrained and caustic. Members ob- 
jected strenuously to placing women in the 
Army because this would give them the 
disability benefits and pensions that men 
received. Some also feared that women 
generals would rush about the country 
dictating orders to male personnel and 
telling the commanding officers of posts 
how to run their business. 

This opposition was not tempered in 
the least by the fact that the House had 
just passed and sent to the Senate the bill 
placing the WAVES in the Navy with all 
of these possible benefits. As members 
pointed out, Congress was now in the 
incongruous position of giving Waves the 
full protection of military status while for- 
bidding them, in their bill, to go overseas, 
whereas the WAAC bill allowed women 
to go overseas without the protection of 
military status. Opinion in the Senate 
committee was divided, but members 
finally became convinced that great delay 
would result from any attempt to change 
the Rogers bill. 

There was one last flurry when it 
seemed that the Director of Selective 
Service would secure Presidential ap- 
proval to a plan to request the voluntary 
registration of all women. This step would 
have made little change in the WAAC 



plan, but might have considerably in- 
creased the prospect of recruits if women 
had believed the registration a prelude to 
forced service in farms and factories. 
However, on 4 May 1942 the President 
decided against the plan. 68 

It was shortly apparent that Congress 
would pass the Rogers bill immediately 
without any of the proposed amendments. 
The War Department and the WAAC 
planners waited, braced for the outburst 
of publicity and the need for furious 
action, which they knew must accompany 
the bill's passage. Their plans were com- 
plete, as far as human guesswork could 
foretell the future. Men who had never 
seen an enlisted woman and women who 
had never been one had together planned 
for the future welfare and efficiency of 
women who were to be enlisted to work 
for the Army. 

On 14 May 1942, the Rogers bill was 
approved by the Senate, 38 to 27, and 
when signed the next day by the President 
became Public Law 554, An Act to Estab- 
lish a Women's Army Auxiliary Corps for 
Service with the Army of the United 
States. 

(l)~The nine: G-3, G-4, TAG, JAG, SGO, Fin, 
Mil Pers Div SOS, G-l, SW. See D/F, G-l to [above], 
20 Apr 42. Copy in Mudgett Staybacks. (2) The four- 
teen: G-4, Budget and Leg Ping Br, Fin, JAG, Req 
Div SOS. SGO, CofAdm Serv SOS, Tng Div SOS, 
TAG Enl Br, TAG, G-3, G-l, OQMG. See Memo 
for each, 24 Apr 42. G-l / 1 5H39-10. (3) Memo, JAG 
for Dir Pers SOS, 5 May 42. SPJGA 354.01. 

68 (1) D/F, G-l, 27 Apr 42, sub: Voluntary Regis- 
tration of Women. G- 1 / 15839-27; (2) Ltr, SW to 
Dir SS, 27 Apr 42, and reply, SS to SW, 8 May 42. 
G-l/15839-1 (5-11-42). 



CHAPTER III 



The WAAC's First Summer 



On the rainy morning of 16 May 1942, 
Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby took the oath of 
office as Director, WAAC. This event rep- 
resented a neatly executed coup d'etat on 
the part of the Army, which, on the night 
of 14 May, had sent Col. Robert N. Young 
of the General Staff hurrying to the home 
of the Secretary of War with the letter of 
appointment in his hand. The Secretary 
demurred at the haste but was persuaded 
that this was the only way to avoid irre- 
sistible political pressure the next morning 
to appoint other candidates who would be 
disastrously unfamiliar with the Army's 
plans. Competition for the position was by 
now so open that newspaper columnists 
were speculating on various candidates' 
qualifications, or lack of them. 1 

Thus on 15 May there was simulta- 
neous announcement of the President's 
signature and of the appointment of the 
Director. The appointment ceremony the 
next morning was witnessed by the Secre- 
tary of War, the Chief of Staff, Congress- 
woman Rogers, Governor Hobby, and a 
few others. Mrs. Hobby accepted, saying, 
"You have said that the Army needs the 
Corps. That is enough for me." The occa- 
sion was not particularly inspiring for 
participants: klieg lights blazed; the 
speeches had to be given over and over for 
cameramen; Mrs. Hobby was asked to 
raise her hand and repeat the oath several 
times. Furthermore, her wide-brimmed 



hat proved unreasonably difficult to pho- 
tograph. Thus the first Waac was sworn 
in. 2 

From this moment forward, Director 
Hobby was faithfully credited by some 
millions of Americans with having per- 
sonally initiated the Corps and dictated its 
every move. Although she had neither 
originated the idea, written the legislation, 
nor determined the Regulations, her office 
repeatedly had to answer inquirers such 
as an Army private, who wrote: "From 
whom or whence did she derive the idea of 
organizing such a unit?" 3 

The Press 

There followed immediately a well- 
attended press conference, the first of 
many to come. The War Department 
realized the importance of the initial reac- 



1 Interv with Brig Gen Robert N. Young, CG 
MDW, 14 Dec 45. The syndicated column, "The Na- 
tional Whirligig," May 20, 1942. WDBPR News- 
paper Clippings, WAC, DRB AGO. 

2 Letter of appointment was dated 15 May 1942. 
Memo, WAAC Hq for TAG, 18 May 42. WA 314.7 
(6-2-41) see 1, DRB AGO. Director Hobby's as- 
signed serial number was OA-1. For others, the letter 
A was prefixed for auxiliaries, and L for officers. It 
was never specified what the L represented — presum- 
ably "Lady." The numbers from 100,000 to 199,999 
were assigned to the First Service Command, 200,000 
to 299,999 to the Second, and so on. Memos, TAG for 
Dir WAAC, 16 and 20 May 42. SPWA 341. 

:! Ltr, Pvt Frank Wetrich to OWI, 22 Feb 44, for- 
warded to Dir WAC. SPWA 095. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



47 




MRS. OVETA CULP HOBBY is sworn in as the first Waac by Maj. Gen. Myron C. 
Cramer. General Marshall, second from left, and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson were among 
witnesses of the ceremony. 



tion, and General Hilldring said, "This 
whole thing stands or falls on the next 60 
days." 1 

The basic idea of the Corps which the 
Director and the Chief of Staff wished to 
impress upon the public was that of a 
sober, hard-working organization, com- 
posed of dignified and sensible women. 
Their work must be shown as readjust as 
the war was real and the nation's danger 
was real. Although there might be prob- 
lems of feminine adjustment, the War 
Department did not intend to encourage 
frivolity. 



This excellent but somewhat staid ap- 
proach was not expected by even the most 
sanguine to offer any great appeal to the 
press. The Director's staff noted that 
"news" about women had long been pat- 
terned on three stereotypes of the Ameri- 
can woman: (1) she was a giddy feather- 
brain frequently engaged in powder-puff 
wars and with no interest beyond clothes, 
cosmetics, and dates; (2) she was a hen- 
pecking old battle-ax who loved to boss 



1 Details, unless otherwise indicated, are from 
intervs with Mrs. Herrick, 9 Jan 46, Mrs. Eric 
Knight, 27 Feb 46, and Gen Hilldring, 17 Jan 46. 



48 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



the male species; or (3) she was a sainted 
wife and mother until she left her kitchen, 
whereupon she became a potentially scar- 
let woman. Director Hobby had already 
taken issue with these views, saying, 
"Waacs will be neither Amazons rushing 
to battle, nor butterflies fluttering about." 5 
One idea which she was particularly 
anxious to avoid was the familiar "morale 
purposes" accusation — that Waacs were 
not wanted to fill Army jobs so much as to 
provide companionship for soldiers. Gen- 
eral Marshall had been deliberately care- 
ful, in urging Congress to pass the bill, to 
use solely the arguments concerning the 
usefulness of Waacs as workers, and never 
those that treated them chiefly as women." 

Here at this first conference was to begin 
a never-finished battle as to which idea of 
woman in the Army would prevail — 
whether the public would get stories 
mainly of her real work and useful jobs, or 
of her underwear, cosmetics, dates with 
soldiers, her rank-pulling, sex life, and 
misconduct. Certain sections of the press 
were expected to co-operate, in the inter- 
est of the war effort, by playing down 
sensational angles that might hinder 
recruiting. Since not all could be expected 
to do so, the Director and her public rela- 
tions consultant, Mrs. Herrick, sat up the 
night before the conference listing all pos- 
sible embarrassing questions that reporters 
might ask, and rehearsing and polishing 
the Director's replies so as to minimize 
frivolous matters and emphasize the seri- 
ous purpose of the Corps. A comparison of 
their list with the questions asked the next 
day showed that they did not miss even 
one, and in fact thought of a few that the 
reporters overlooked. 

At the press conference, the Director 
was supported by the Chief of Staff him- 
self, General Marshall, and the head of 



the Bureau of Public Relations, Maj. Gen. 
Alexander D. Surles. A routine handout 
was devoted to recruiting and training 
plans, enlistment requirements, and other 
statistics. A description of the uniform, 
especially the underwear, for which re- 
porters were eager, was tactfully withheld 
a few days because its procurement was 
not yet finally approved. Frustrated here, 
the reporters opened up the expected bar- 
rage of questions directed at Mrs. Hobby: 7 

Q. How about girdles? 

A. If you mean, will they be issued, I 
can't tell you yet. If they are required, they 
will be supplied. 

Q. Will Waacs be allowed to use make-up? 
A. Yes, if it is inconspicuous. 

Q. What do you consider that to be? 
A. I hope their own good taste will de- 
cide. 

Q. Nail polish? 

A. If inconspicuous, yes. 

Q. Will the women salute? 
A. Yes. they will salute. 

Q. Will they march and carry arms? 
A. They will learn to march well enough 
to parade, but they will carry no guns. 

Q, Will they be put in guardhouses? 
A. No, no guardhouses. 

Q. This is a burning question. Will officer 
Waacs permitted to have dates with privates? 

A. [Here Mrs. Hobby turned to one of the 
generals 8 for a description of Army tradition. 
He explained that Army policy was that offi- 
cers when not with troops, and enlisted men 
when off duty, might associate, but that he 



5 MS history of First WAAC Training Center. 
Folder, Supplementary Hist Material Sent to Wash- 
ington Nov 1945. WD Library. (Hereafter cited as 
Hist of 1st WAAC Tng Ccn.) 

B Interv with Gen Hilldring, 1 7 Jan 46 
; Compiled from Associated Press and United Press 
releases as well as syndicated columns for May 16, 
1942. WDDPR Newspaper Clippings, WAC, DRB 
AGO. 

8 Associated Press said it was General Marshall; 
United Press said General Surles. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



49 



hadn't been to the field lately and didn't 
know how it worked for nurses.] 

Some questions became even more 
pointed. "There was one male reporter in 
particular," reported a spectator, "who 
kept prodding the woman reporter next to 
him to ask more and more about illegiti- 
mate babies." To this query, Mrs. Hobby 
replied briefly that pregnant women, mar- 
ried or unmarried, would be discharged. 

"The Director handled herself excel- 
lently," reported another observer. "She 
was very direct, forthright, composed, and 
as candid as could be. She made a good 
impression." The next day's newspaper 
stories confirmed this, although a few 
women columnists 9 pointed out that Mrs. 
Hobby's previous "unavailability" had 
not made her popular with newspaper- 
women who wanted intimate details, and 
the Negro press attacked the appointment 
of a woman from Texas. 10 In general, the 
hundreds of clippings collected by the 
Bureau of Public Relations showed wide- 
spread praise for the Corps and the Di- 
rector. A few spiced up the story with 
headlines such as "Petticoat Army" or 
"Doughgirl Generalissimo," L1 and some 
punsters were obviously unable to resist 
such opportunities as "Wackies," "Pow- 
der-magazines," "Fort Lipstick," and 
(concerning girdles), "It wouldn't do to let 
the fighting lassies get out of shape." 12 

Male columnists were the worst of- 
fenders, in spite of Damon Runyon's re- 
mark, "A lady in the uniform of her 
country will scarcely be an object of jest- 
ing on the part of a gentleman not in the 
same garb." 13 Some of the attacks con- 
tained savage comparisons to "the naked 
Amazons . . . and the queer damozels of 
the Isle of Lesbos." 14 Others, as expected, 
had a field day with the idea that wom- 
an's place is in the maternity ward. Said 



one: "Women's prime function with rela- 
tion to war is to produce children so that 
the supply of men for fighting purposes 
can be kept up to par." Another: "Give 
the rejected 4-F men a chance to be in 
the Army and give the girls a chance to 
be mothers." Others became emotional 
over their assumption that all Waac re- 
cruits would be married women who had 
deserted infants. 15 

Thus began the fight to hold the line on 
public relations, which had wrecked re- 
cruiting for British women's services. Pre- 
maturely hopeful that the worst was over, 
the Director and her staff began their first 
day as a recognized and operating head- 
quarters. 

Establishment of WAAC Headquarters 

"The next month was chaos," said a 
staff member later. "Every newspaper and 
magazine writer came down to see us. Im- 
portant people of all sorts were also now 
willing to advise us." 16 The open bays of 
the office at Temporary M swarmed with 
new clerks, insistent visitors, and hurrying 
staff members; telephones buzzed and 
boxes of supplies were stacked in corners. 

On the day after the Director's appoint- 



9 Columns mentioned n. 7. 

10 Pittsburgh Courier, May 23, 1942, and others. 
WDBPR Newspaper Clippings, WAC, DRB AGO. 

11 Fargo (N. D.) Morning Forum, May 17, 1942, and 
Niles (Mich.) Star, May 20, 1942, respectively. 

12 First three in Little Rock Arkansas Democrat, May 
23, 1942. The last in the column "The Totem Pole," 
Seattle Star, May 20, 1942. 

13 The column, "The Brighter Side," May 22, 
1942. WDBPR Newspaper Clippings, WAC, DRB 
AGO. 

14 The column, "Miami Story," Miami (Fla.) News, 
May 20, 1942. 

lr> Editorials in New York Daily News and Augusta 
(Ga.) Herald, and a column in Oklahoma City Daily 
Oklahoman, May 1942, respectively. WDBPR News- 
paper Clippings, WAC, DRB AGO. 

16 Interv with Mrs. Herrick, 9 Jan 46. 



50 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ment, the little headquarters pulled itself 
together and began to issue numbered 
memoranda. Now that there legally was 
a WAAC, the long-delayed funds could 
at last be allotted for a training center; 
the tentative Regulations could be pub- 
lished; the items of uniform could be ap- 
proved for procurement and details re- 
leased to the underwear-conscious press. 
More important, the still-nebulous group 
of preplanners could now be solidified into 
a real WAAC Headquarters, complete 
with charts and ready for rapid expansion. 
Thirty-seven civilians were also allotted, 
including another woman consultant, 
Mrs. Gruber, wife of Brig. Gen. William R. 
Gruber, to advise on military protocol and 
manage the Director's schedule. The 
office now totaled some fifty people. 17 

By any military standards this was 
hardly an impressive headquarters, 
scarcely the equal of that of a respectable 
Army regiment; and in spite of the exag- 
gerated power that was attributed to it by 
the press and general public, its members 
by this time entertained few delusions of 
grandeur. As an insignificant civilian 
group, which included no general officer, 
they expected and got a low priority of 
attention as compared with the more vital 
phases of the combat effort, particularly in 
such matters as office space, cafeteria 
hours, entertainment allowances, and 
transportation. 18 

The office had at least a military-look- 
ing chief when, in June, there arrived the 
first WAAC uniform, especially made for 
Director Hobby. She promptly put it on, 
reported formally to the Chief of Staff, 
and came back wearing a colonel's silver 
eagles, which he had pinned on and di- 
rected her to wear. The relative rank of 
Director was thus established at that of 
colonel, although Congress had author- 



ized pay equal only to that of a major. 
Both relative rank and pay were thus 
established as the same as that recently 
given to the Superintendent, Army Nurse 
Corps. The relative rank of full colonel 
was also necessitated by the grades of the 
Army officers on her staff, since Director 
Hobby would be superior in the WAAC 
chain of command to the commandant of 
the training center, Colonel Faith, as well 
as to her own staff, which now included 
Col. William Pearson as adjutant general 
and Col. Bickford Sawyer as finance 
officer. 

No later Waacs ever suffered from uni- 
form shortages as did Director Hobby at 
this time; there was in existence only one 
WAAC shirt, and in her travels her lug- 
gage contained little but an electric fan 
and an iron, which enabled her to wash, 
dry, and iron the shirt nightly. 

Location in the Services of Supply 

Meanwhile, the Services of Supply was 
considering a more important matter: the 
proper place in the headquarters chart to 
insert the square labeled WAAC. Compe- 
tition for the honor of supervising the 
WAAC was not exactly brisk; it might be 
said that each agency outdid the other in 
striving to bestow this gift on its neighbor. 13 

17 (1) Various Hq Memos in WA 300 (5-20-42) 
Office Memos, sec 1. (2) Memo, G-l for CofS, 13 
Mav 42. VVDGAP 352.01 WAAC. (3) Memo, TAG 
for Dir WAAC, 28 May 42. AG 291.9 (5-15-42). (4) 
Memo, OQMG for G-l, 16 Mav 42. and Inds. 
SPQRE 420 WAAC. Copy in SPWA 421 (5-16-42) 
sec 1. (5) WD SO 129, 17 May 42; Memo, WAAC Ln 
Off for Pers Div SOS, 15 May 42. Tasker Staybacks. 

" ( I) Memo, W. Pearson for TAG, 19 Mar 42, and 
atchd answer. WA 029.21 (3-19-42). (2) Memo, Dir 
WAAC for SOS, 16 May 42, and atchd reply from 
TAG. WA451 (5-16-42). 

1! ' Intervs with Lt Col Woods, 14 Dec 45, and Lt 
Col Betty Bandel, L5 Dec 45. (Both former Deputy 
Directors.) 



THE WAAG'S FIRST SUMMER 



51 



At one time it seemed that Civilian Per- 
sonnel Division would be forced to assume 
control, although this was obviously inap- 
propriate, since WAAC administration 
would be conducted along military lines. 
Military Personnel Division, from whence 
the preplanners had operated, was also 
inappropriate, as it was strictly a policy- 
making agency and did not operate, while 
WAAC Headquarters would operate a 
training center and various units. The 
loser in this unique contest was eventually 
the Chief of Administrative Services, at 
that time Maj. Gen.John P. Smith. General 
Smith was shortly to be succeeded by Maj. 
Gen. George Grunert, who, as a lieutenant 
colonel, had in 1927 been one of the War 
Department staff officers to recommend 
postponement of plans for a women's 
service corps. The Administrative Services, 
a large subdivision of the Services of Sup- 
ply, included many comparable operating 
agencies, such as the Army Specialist 
Corps, the Army Exchange Service, and 
the National Guard Bureau. WAAC 
Headquarters would now be removed 
from the Chief of Staff by three echelons: 
first, the Chief of Administrative Services; 
over him the Commanding General, Serv- 
ices of Supply; and over both on person- 
nel matters the Assistant Chief of Staff, 
G-l. The new position was not advan- 
tageous in many ways, but it appeared to 
the Director's advisers that there was at 
the moment no alternative. 20 

The WAAC's new status as one of the 
Administrative Services was set forth to 
the field by the first important War De- 
partment Circular governing the WAAC — 
Circular 169 of 1 June 1942 — which, after 
two weeks of the Corps' existence, at last 
made the WAAC legitimate. The circular 
was so brief that a second circular was 
clearly needed at once, although it did in- 



form the Army that ( 1 ) the Director would 
command the Corps and (2) other Services 
of Supply offices would set WAAC policy. 
It gave no details cither of command chan- 
nels or of interoffice co-ordination; neither 
did it refer to the tentative WAAC Regu- 
lations. All WAAC plans and recom- 
mended policies were required to be sent 
to the Chief of Administrative Services 
"for reference to the appropriate staff di- 
vision of the Services of Supply." The 
Chief of Administrative Services wrote: 
"While the WAAC is not a part of the 
Army, yet the entire administration of the 
Corps, including its organization and de- 
velopment, must be supervised and as- 
sisted by the Services of Supply." 21 

Director's Schedule 

As the new Corps began the selection of 
officer candidates and the establishment 
of its training center, the work load upon 
the headquarters, never light, suddenly 
became so great as seriously to threaten its 
efficiency."" A fourteen-hour day and a 
seven-day week became standard in the 
Director's office, a schedule of course not 
uncommon throughout the War Depart- 
ment at this date. Even this was often ex- 
ceeded; staff members reported that for 
days at a time Mrs. Hobby and her as- 
sistants worked every night until three, 
five, and sometimes seven in the morning, 
averaging only two or three hours of sleep 
each night, or merely going home for a 
shower and coffee before returning to 
work. Staff members worked under condi- 



-» Memo, Dir Mil Pers SOS for CofAdm Serv, 21 
May 42. SPGAP/1 6 19-49, in AG 291.9 WAAC 
(5-15-42). 

ai Ibid. 

This section from interviews, already cited, with 
staff members; or from Hq Memos cited ln. 17(1)1 



52 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



tions of what they called "awful con- 
fusion" and pointed out that the develop- 
ments of the following months could be 
seen in perspective only if it was under- 
stood that they occurred, not separately 
and in order, but simultaneously and in 
the midst of wildly growing national 
publicity that was in itself a full-time 
problem. 

Director Hobby attempted to cope with 
the confusion by rigorously budgeting her 
time. To Mrs. Gruber was given the task 
of scheduling all persons wishing to see the 
Director, in the belief that "more speed 
can be made if she finishes one subject 
without interruption." Staff members pre- 
pared summaries of staff papers and kept 
a chart for the Director's daily briefing; 
Colonel Pearson also directed that the Di- 
rector be left free for "formulation of basic 
policies." Unfortunately, at this stage 
everything was new and policy was insepa- 
rable from detail; the situation resolved 
itself into a struggle to meet the daily crises 
without crushing the Director with de- 
cisions. The War Department Bureau of 
Public Relations required the Director to 
hold a full two-hour press conference twice 
weekly. Also, interviews with the public 
were scheduled four times a week, thus 
leaving only a few days entirely free for 
military problems. Even this amount of 
time was highly unsatisfactory to members 
of the press and Congress and other citi- 
zens who now came to call, and some 
criticism resulted. One Congressman com- 
plained, "I can get to the President in five 
minutes, but I can't get to Mrs. Hobby at 
all." 

The Director was aware of the problem 
and stated in an office memorandum: 

The successful launching of the WAAC is 
a public relations problem to probably a 
greater extent than any other War Depart- 



ment activity. We must establish a reputation 
for not giving the "brush-off" or "run- 
around" to those calling. 

However, she felt little sympathy toward 
those who wanted merely a sight of her or 
some personal favor. She said later: 

Many of them were just curiosity-seekers; 
they could have got accurate information 
from any Army officer in our headquarters, 
but they wanted to sit and chat with that new 
curiosity, a woman in Army uniform. 

More important than seeing such people, 
she felt, were her military responsibilities 
to the Army and to the women about to 
join the WAAC. 

Operating Duties 

These military duties, and not the 
public pressure, constituted the real prob- 
lem of the heavy work load. The Director 
realized from the beginning that her duties 
were exactly the reverse of what they 
should have been; she said later: "We had 
foreseen this problem in Canada, and it 
was one of the reasons why we wanted 
Army status. Now, we were an Auxiliary 
and it was none of Army offices' legal 
business." 

For example, the office set out to pre- 
pare Tables of Basic Allowances for the 
WAAC Training Center and for units, and 
was at once struggling with terms such as 
"T-Square, Maple, Plastic lined, one per 
publications section"; "Chart, Anatomical, 
Blood System, one per training center"; 
"Can, corrugated, with cover, 32 gal, one 
per 20 mbrs." Realizing that the WAAC's 
staff of eleven officers did not possess the 
necessary specialist training to prepare ac- 
curate tables of chemical, signal, medical, 
and other equipment and that the tables 
could be done quickly by the Army spe- 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



53 



cialists who prepared tables for men, 
Colonel Pearson attempted to send the 
work to the Chief of Administrative Serv- 
ices for distribution to other Services of 
Supply offices. It was promptly returned 
to him with the statement that the only 
thing wanted for distribution to the SOS 
offices was the final plan or policy for 
approval. 23 Director Hobby noted further: 

We had to prepare our own budget for 
presentation to Congress — a complicated 
statistical matter — because the people who 
prepared Army budgets said it wasn't their 
responsibility. Then, three of us worked all 
one night until 9 the next morning writing 
the recruiting circulars which I had to pre- 
sent for approval to The Adjutant General; 
TAG wouldn't write them. We had to check 
all the blueprints for housing at every sta- 
tion — endless, bewildering blueprints. 2A 

In every field of military responsibility, 
it was the same story. The technical work 
of the WAAC was done by an office that 
knew little of the method, and the policy 
approval was given to agencies that knew 
nothing of WAAC over-all needs. Staff 
members realized that, had Army status 
made it possible, just the opposite organi- 
zation would have been most efficient. 
Under the circumstances, most of the 
summer's tasks were accomplished, if at 
all, only by a process of mutual irritation. 

Colonel Pearson, the office's oldest and 
most experienced adviser, was likewise 
unable to obtain from the Services of Sup- 
ply any clear-cut decision that would 
enable him to distinguish between policy 
matters which he must refer to other 
offices and routine decisions which he 
could make and put into effect without 
delay. Colonel Pearson finally forced the 
issue by sending direct to The Adjutant 
General for publication a minor decision 
which he considered routine — that of rais- 
ing the age limit for the first officer candi- 



date class from 45 to the legal limit of 50. 
Refusing to publish it, The Adjutant Gen- 
eral sent it to Control Branch, SOS, for 
clearance; Control Branch sent it for com- 
ment to Military Personnel Division, 
which commented and sent it back to Con- 
trol Branch, which a week later returned 
it to the WAAC, with directions to draft 
the circular instead of asking The Adju- 
tant General to do it, and a brief verbal 
spanking: "In the future, please transmit 
all matters of this nature to the Chief of 
Administrative Services." 

It was thus established that even simple 
WAAC decisions would probably be con- 
sidered policy matters and thus require 
approval by several SOS branches before 
they could be put into operation. While 
such a procedure proved useful in avoid- 
ing errors, it became impossible for WAAC 
Headquarters to act with anything like 
speed and decisiveness in the emergencies 
bearing down upon it. 25 

Drastic expedients were suggested to the 
Director by her Army advisers, some in- 
volving the disbandment of WAAC Head- 
quarters. The most plausible of these — 
although probably not legal — was to dis- 
member the office and give the various 
pieces to the SOS divisions that handled 
the same matters for men, while the Di- 
rector and a small office for control and 
inspection would soar upward for several 
SOS echelons and attach themselves to the 
office of the Commanding General, Serv- 
ices of Supply, Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somer- 
vell. From this vantage point the Director 
could then heckle other offices when dif- 

Memo, Chief, Sup Div WAAC for CofAdm Serv, 
1 Sep 42. SPWA 400.34 (3-21-43)(l) sec 1. 

24 Interv with Mrs. Hobby, 23 Aug 4-8. 

25 Correspondence cited is a series of papers under 
dates of 25 and 27 May, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16Jun 
1942. AG 291.9 (6-2-41). Staff comments are from 
interv with Mrs, Onthank, 4 Sep 46. 



54 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ficulti es occurred. "As it is now," the 
Army advisers wrote mournfully, "we 
have to ask help from all of these branches, 
and maybe get it and maybe don't, and 
get bounced all around unless we want to 
go to the top to help us out, and that is a 
bad system." 25 This plan, although emi- 
nently workable, was not be adopted until 
the WAAC became part of the Army. 

In spite of the unresolved confusion and 
the demands upon them, staff members 
remained enthusiastic and optimistic; 
Director Hobby publicly thanked them 
for their loyalty and for putting so much 
into the struggle. 27 

Selection of the First Officer Candidates 

From the public viewpoint, selection of 
the WAAC officer candidates was the only 
important matter that the W T AAC now 
had on its hands. From the moment of 
passage of the bill, WAAC Headquarters 
had been besieged, to the detriment of its 
other duties, by long-distance telephone 
calls, telegrams, visitors, and letters of ap- 
plication, all asking commissions. Con- 
gressmen, Army heads, and public officials 
were swamped by demands from friends 
and constituents. Officers of all the armed 
forces sought to get commissions for their 
friends and relatives, while powerful pres- 
sure groups sought to name assistant di- 
rectors. "Every important person had a 
candidate," said a woman staff member, 
"and they all wanted guarantees of com- 
missions and important positions." 28 

Under its legislation, the WAAC could 
have commissioned many of its officers di- 
rect from civil life with appropriate rank, 
as the Army did and as the WAVES and 
other women's services were later to do. 
Mrs. Hobby's previous decision to grant 
no direct commissions was severely tested. 



Mrs. Rogers, the Corps' sponsor, urged her 
to commission several lieutenant colonels 
at once, as she feared that otherwise the 
WAAC leaders would have no prestige in 
their dealings with ranking Army offi- 
cers. 29 However, it appeared that if even 
two or three women were commissioned 
directly, it would be impossible to refuse 
hundreds of others with prominent spon- 
sors, and Director Hobby believed that 
Mrs. Rogers' objection concerning rank 
could be overcome by rapid promotion as 
soon as the women had demonstrated 
their ability. 

It was General Hilldring's belief that 
the Director was strengthened in her origi- 
nal decision by the opinions of General 
Marshall. 

The Chief of Staff was a great democrat 
[said General Hilldring]. I told Mrs. Hobby 
how, at his direction, I had made a fight to 
get more officers from the ranks of enlisted 
men. I told her that he might not object to 
appointing a few civilian women for the top 
jobs, but the rest of the officers must come 
from the ranks. They must be the best 
women in the ranks even if this was not 
necessarily the best in the nation. 30 

Also, staff members in their discussions 
of this point gave some weight to what 
they called "the man-woman element," a 
factor which did not ordinarily operate in 
the selection of male officers for commis- 
sions, but which now made it difficult to 
judge with entire accuracy the motives 
behind demands for the commissioning of 
female friends and secretaries. 51 

The experiences of other nations indi- 

26 ( 1) Min, Stf Mtg, 24 Aug 42. (2) Memo, PRO for 
Dir WAAC, 9 Sep 42. SPWA 300.4. 

27 Unnumbered Memo, 1 Jun 42. WA 300 

(5-20-42). 

25 List of some applicants in SPWA 029 (1942). 
- 9 Interv with Mrs. Rogers, 14 Dec 45. 
30 Interv with Gen Hilldring, 17 Jan 46. 
SI All interviews confirm this. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



55 



cated that, by its initial choice of officers, 
the entire future course of a women's corps 
might be determined. In England initial 
limitation of commissioned rank to socially 
or politically prominent women had left a 
corps without adequate troop officers. In 
some Continental countries commissions 
had been awarded chiefly to enable cer- 
tain personnel to travel with ranking 
officers. It was recognized that, without 
firm leadership at this moment, the first 
American auxiliary might set out on a 
similar course. Finally, a General Staff 
decision was obtained that confirmed the 
Director's original policy of limiting the 
future WAAC leadership to those women 
who would enlist without guarantees, and 
making it possible to refuse all requests 
from high authorities without incurring 
charges of discrimination. 32 All applicants 
who stormed WAAC Headquarters were 
therefore told to apply at their local Army 
recruiting stations. Director Hobby's own 
civilian advisers, Mrs. Woods and Mrs. 
Fling, had to follow this procedure when 
they desired to enlist. 

By 27 May, Army recruiting stations all 
over the United States were supplied with 
application blanks, and newspapers car- 
ried the story that the doors were now 
open for officer candidate applications. 33 
The response was a rush that swamped re- 
cruiting stations and startled recruiters. 
The Adjutant General had optimistically 
sent each corps area 10,000 application 
blanks, a total of 90,000, although only 
360 candidates were to be selected. Three 
days later, urgent calls had already come 
from the Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth 
Corps Areas for 10,000 more each, and 
from the Fifth and Ninth for 5,000. Of the 
140,000 blanks given out, it was assumed 
that many would not be returned, as the 
4 June deadline gave little leeway on 



delayed applications. Some recruiting 
officers attempted to weed out the obvi- 
ously unqualified and to give the scarce 
blanks only to eligibles. 

In New York City, 1,400 women 
stormed the Whitehall Street office on the 
first day and stood in line from 8:30 to 
5:00 o'clock. In five days over 5,200 had 
received application blanks in New York 
City alone, although only 30 women 
could be picked from the whole of New 
York State, New Jersey, and Delaware. In 
Washington 1,700 applied for the eight 
positions open to the District of Columbia. 
Numbers as reported by newspapers 
varied in different cities: Sheboygan — 20; 
Lowell — 65; Richmond — 65; Baltimore — 
500; Portland— 380; Sacramento— 135; 
Minneapolis — 600 given out, but only 50 
returned; Butte — "a few cautious in- 
quiries." Nothing could be told as yet of 
the type of woman who had applied. 
Newspapers featured an Indian woman in 
full tribal regalia, a sixteen-year-old who 
wanted to get away from home, a wild- 
eyed mother brandishing a pistol and 
demanding to get to the front. It was 
hoped that these were not typical appli- 
cants. 34 

Screening of Applicants 

It had been decided that Army induc- 
tion facilities could be used for women, 
with of course the necessary segregation 

3 - Document not positively identified; possibly 
Memo, G-l for GofS, 22 Mar 42, sub; WAAC. 
G-l/15839, in CofS 291.9. 

33 WDBPR Press Release, 26 May 42. All WDBPR 
Press Releases are in WDBPR file, DRB AGO. 

34 New London Day (Conn.), New York World- 
Telegram, Washington Post, Sheboygan Press (Wise), 
Lowell Sun, (Mass.), Richmond Times-Dispatch , Balti- 
more Evening Sun, Portland Morning Oregonian, Sacra- 
mento Daily Union, Minneapolis Tribune, all of June 2, 
1942; Butte Montana Standard, May 24, 1942. 



56 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



for physical examination. 35 This decision 
provided an extra and unscheduled 
screening device, for only women of some 
valor dared approach the Army offices. 
Members of the first class commented: 
"The recruiting station was the dirtiest 
place I ever saw." "It was in the post office 
basement next to the men's toilets." "I 
was whistled at by the selectees." "Every- 
one in the room turned to look as the 
Captain bawled out 'Are you one of them 
Wackies?' " 38 WAC recruiters were later 
to find the location and nature of Army 
recruiting facilities a major handicap in 
recruiting women. 

Some 30,000 women braved this ob- 
stacle and filed applications. Their papers 
were reviewed by the stations, and those 
who were not obviously disqualified for 
age, citizenship, or other causes were sum- 
moned for an aptitude test. This test had 
been prepared by the Personnel Proce- 
dures Section of The Adjutant General's 
Office to eliminate 55 percent of all appli- 
cants. 37 It was attempted to make stand- 
ard questions more appropriate for fe- 
males, but some were not easily converted, 
and women were confronted by such 
problems as, "You are a first baseman, and 
after putting the batter out by catching 
the ball (not a fly) with your foot on the 
bag, you ..." 38 

Those who passed the aptitude test were 
further screened by a preliminary local 
interviewing board of two women and an 
Army officer selected by the corps area. 
To avoid appointment of unqualified 
women to these boards, the preplanners 
had sent out instructions that members 
were to be local personnel directors, busi- 
ness executives, YWCA supervisors, and 
women of like standing. These local 
boards weeded out those applicants who 
were visibly unsuited by reason of char- 



acter, bearing, or instability. Members 
were asked to consider the question: 
"Would I want my daughter to come 
under the influence of this woman?" 39 

The numbers passing both the test and 
the first board still hopelessly overcrowded 
Army medical facilities for the examina- 
tion of women. It was therefore directed 
that only the top five hundred applicants 
in each corps area be given physical exam- 
inations. The examination was not entirely 
consistent throughout the corps area and 
it was evident that the Army still had far 
to go in working out a satisfactory physical 
examination for women, but it did elimi- 
nate those with the more obvious physical 
disqualifications. 

There then arrived at each corps area 
headquarters an especially selected woman 
to be the Director's representative on the 
final screening board. Among the women 
selected were Dean Dorothy C. Stratton of 
Purdue, later head of the SPARS, and 
Dean Sarah Blanding of Cornell, later 
President of Vassar. 40 In spite of the pres- 



35 (1) M/R 1-7, Oct 40, sub: Reception of SS EM. 
(2) Folder, Selection Processing, Hobby files. 

36 Related to author by members of first officers' 
candidate class. 

37 (1) WDAGO Mental Alertness-1, X-Z, Mar 42, 
called MAT-1. (2) Speech, Col Tasker to Corps Area 
G-l Cong, 12 Jun 42. WAAC Hist File, 1942 WAAC 
Files. (3) D/F, SOS to TAG, 1 1 Mar 42, sub: WAAC. 
G-l/15839-10. 

38 It proved very difficult to discover the correlation 
between the WAAC Mental Alertness Test (MAT) 
and the Army General Classification Test (AGCT). 
For details of testing, see Folder, Tests, in WAAC 
Planning files (unnumbered files now with Staff Rec 
Sec, DRB AGO), containing: (1) Memo, Dir WAC 
for TAG, 10 Aug 43, SPWA 201.6; (2) M/R, un- 
dated, 2d Lt Ruth W. Brainerd, sub: AGCT and 
MAT; (3) Memo, Opns and Tng Div AGO for Dir 
WAC, 16 Dec 43, AG 220.01 ( 1 2- 1 6-43)OC-L. 

33 Memo, Hq SOS for TAG, 17 Mar 42, sub: 
WAAC. G-l/15839-10. 

40 All members listed in WDBPR Press Release, 30 
Jun 42. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



57 





sure of time, the final personal interviews 
were more extensive, and delved thor- 
oughly into each candidate's record in 
school, college, and business to see if signs 
of leadership were evident. 41 The Direc- 
tor's representatives then returned imme- 
diately to Washington bearing the candi- 
dates' complete papers, pictures, and 
interview records. Their private comments 
varied with the corps areas. One said, 
"Decidedly disappointed in both number 
and general type of applicants"; another, 
"A complete cross-section from young 
things to professional women"; and a 
third, "I was impressed with the common 
denominator shared by the extremes in 



types — wanting to do organized effective 
war work." 42 

The final selection process was of un- 
equaled intensity. An evaluating board of 
eleven prominent psychiatrists 43 searched 
the work histories for evidences of mental 
instability, choosing women who showed 
steady progress and acceptance of respon- 
sibility rather than frequent unexplained 
changes of jobs. Application forms also 
revealed data on parents and family life, 



11 Memo, Dir WAAC for Pers Div SOS, 2 Jun 42. 
G-l/15839-10 (7-8-42). 

12 Off-the-record comments, Folder, Selection Proc- 
essing, Hobby files. 

13 Named in WDBPR Press Release, 30 Jun 42. 



58 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



whether applicants had ever lived in clubs 
or dormitories, their travel, sports inter- 
ests, and health. Answers to the essay 
question on "Why I Desire Service" were 
believed to be particularly revealing. 
There followed what Director Hobby 
called "four days of careful, almost prayer- 
ful, work of making the final selections." 41 
The Director personally read each of the 
final papers. The 30,000 applicants had 
been reduced to the 4,500 who appeared 
before the final boards, and in the midst 
of selection procedure, word came from 
the Chief of Staff to pick not 360, but 
1,300, the papers of the extra candidates 
to be kept for call to later classes as 
needed. 45 

The work was finally completed late on 
the night of 30 June. Within a week, corps 
areas had notified the 360 top-rated appli- 
cants, who thus had less than two weeks to 
close out their jobs, take the oath, and get 
to Fort Des Moines for the opening on 20 

July. 

The selected candidates had one char- 
acteristic in common: 99 percent had been 
successfully employed in civil life. Al- 
though there was no such educational 
requirement, 90 percent had college train- 
ing and some had several degrees. Most 
fell in the age group of 25 to 39, although 
16 percent were under 25 and 10 percent 
were 40 and over. About 20 percent were 
married, most of them to men in service, 
and there were some mothers, especially 
mothers of servicemen, though none with 
small children. 46 The candidates included 
many women who had held responsible 
jobs: a dean of women, a school owner 
and director, a personnel director, a Red 
Cross official, a former sales manager, and 
several editors, and there were many more 
who had been reporters, office executives, 
lawyers, social workers, Army employees, 



and teachers. In compliance with promises 
made to Congress, it had been necessary 
to choose a certain number from each 
corps area and from each state, regardless 
of density of population, with the result 
that many highly qualified women in cer- 
tain crowded areas had to be turned 
down, while in certain sparsely settled 
states it was necessary to take almost every 
woman who applied. 47 

Special Groups of Candidates 

Two other problems complicated the 
task of the selecting authorities: the selec- 
tion of Negro officer candidates and the 
selection of Aircraft Warning Service can- 
didates. The Negro problem was particu- 
larly delicate, for the Negro press had 
immediately attacked the choice of a 
Director, and the National Negro Council 
had written President Roosevelt protest- 
ing the appointment of a Southern 
woman. 48 

The opposition was unexpected, since 
the War Department had early informed 
Congress that it would train Negro WAAC 
officers and auxiliaries up to 10 percent of 
the Corps and Mrs. Hobby had declared 
her support of the plan; while the Navy 
Department's WAVES, although not 
headed by a Southerner, did not accept 
any Negroes at all for almost three years. 

The real cause of the objections came 
out in later news stories, which revealed 
that Negro leaders had hoped to use the 

44 Speech at Howard University, 6Jul 42. WDBPR 
Press Release, 6 Jul 42. 

45 Memo, Preplanners for G-l, 7 May 42. Tasker 
Staybacks. 

16 Some of the Aircraft Warning Service candidates 
later added to this group had young children, as it 
was supposed that they would live at home. 

4T (1) Figures given to Senate Com on Mil Affairs. 
(2) List in WDBPR Press Memo, 3 Sep 42. 

4S Atlantu Daily World, May 17, 1942. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



59 



new Corps to break the "traditional and 
undemocratic policy of the Army and 
Navy" of placing Negro personnel in sep- 
arate units. 49 Their demand that the 
WAAC place Negro and white women in 
the same unit was rejected because the 
WAAC had been directed to follow the 
Army policy. Now the National Negro 
Council recommended to the Secretary of 
War that Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and 
one other Negro leader be commissioned 
assistant directors, which was of course 
impossible under the no-direct-appoint- 
ment policy. To make relations more pre- 
carious, it soon became apparent that not 
enough qualified Negro women had pre- 
sented themselves as applicants for officer 
candidate school, and it was feared that 
WAAC failure to fill the quota of 10 per- 
cent would be interpreted by the Negro 
press as discrimination. Accordingly, 
Army officers made hurried trips to Negro 
colleges to attempt to recruit qualified 
women. Mrs. Bethune assisted in the 
selection of these candidates, not being 
within the age limit to attend the school 
herself. 00 

For the Aircraft Warning Service the 
Army Air Forces asked that it be allowed 
to put women in uniform without sending 
them to school, but after long considera- 
tion it was decided that AWS officers must 
graduate from the regular officer candi- 
date school before donning the WAAC 
uniform. On the matter of selection the 
Director felt unable to offer opposition, 
since the women to be selected were 
already running the operations and filter 
boards. The Air Forces were therefore 
allotted eighty vacancies for the first offi- 
cer candidate class, which brought that 
class to a total of 440. WAAC Headquar- 
ters suffered some misgivings about the 
absence of the usual tests. However, while 



choices were later found to include some 
women without responsible paid experi- 
ence and with test scores in the lowest 
aptitude category, Group V, the majority 
made successful officers. 5 1 

There was one applicant for attendance 
at the school who gave the War Depart- 
ment more trouble than all others com- 
bined. This was Director Hobby herself, 
who had made up her mind to attend the 
school as an ordinary student in order to 
understand through her own experience 
the problems of a woman's adjustment to 
military training. She stood firm in this 
decision for some time while the expostu- 
lations of shocked advisers raged around 
her. 52 The Director carried this determi- 
nation unaltered up through several strata 
of general officers and was stopped at last 
only by General Marshall himself, who 
told her sympathetically but with finality 
that the thing was impossible under the 
Army system of rank. 

The First WAAC Training Center 

Meanwhile, the situation at Fort Des 
Moines could scarcely have been termed 
tranquil. Immediately upon passage of the 
WAAC bill, Colonel Faith and his staff of 
ten Army officers shot out of Washington 
in the race to have the training center 
ready when the women arrived. 03 They 
reached Des Moines with less than two 
months to spare before opening date. 

19 Chicago Defender, May 23, 1942. 

5(1 (1) Ibid. (2) Copy of plan in Folder Recruiting. 
Tasker files, 1942 WAAC files. (3) Interv with Lt Col 
Woods, 21 Mar 46. 

51 Memo, AG WAAC for Dir WAAC, 3 Jun 42. 
Tasker Staybacks. Also from intervs. 

52 This incident related separately by former staff 
members present at the time: Mrs. Herrick, Mrs. 
Knight, and Mrs. Woods. 

5:1 Memo, G-l for CofS, 13 May 42. WDGAP 
352.01 WAAC. Approved 15 May 42. 



60 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Colonel Faith's basic plan in beginning 
the undertaking was to make the course so 
military that Army skeptics could find 
little to criticize. Reporters who inter- 
viewed him came away stating, "It will be 
no glamour girls' playhouse." They gath- 
ered that few concessions would be made 
to "feminine vanity and civilian frip- 
pery." 54 Colonel Faith deplored the press 
phrasing of the matter, and stated later: 

It was obvious to all of us that a consider- 
able percentage of the Army was either 
opposed to the WAAC idea or very doubtful 
of its potential success. The best way to com- 
bat this attitude was to train the new soldiers 
in those qualities which the Army values 
most highly: neatness in dress, punctilious- 
ness in military courtesy, smartness and pre- 
cision in drill and ceremonies, and willingness 
and ability to do the job. ' 5 

The students were, however, to be taught 
the Army's reasons for the things they 
were required to do. "The American 
woman is the most co-operative human 
being on earth if she fully understands an 
order," Faith declared hopefully. 5R 

Remodeling and new construction at 
Fort Des Moines began as soon as the 
induction station and reception center 
could be moved. Classrooms were erected, 
stables and plumbing converted, and sep- 
arate housing provided for the male cadre. 
The rest of the staff, forty-one officers and 
192 enlisted men, arrived about 30 May. 57 
The director of training was especially 
selected by Colonel Tasker; he was Lt. 
Gordon C.Jones, a former instructor at 
The Citadel. 

Direct communication had been au- 
thorized between Colonel Faith and the 
Director, and this proved indeed fortunate 
for the training center, which began to 
send by telephone, wire, and mail a steady 
stream of requests. 58 Dayroom furniture 
was needed, also a Special Services officer, 



two women doctors, a post utilities officer, 
pictures of uniforms for the local press, 
instruments for the band, and money for 
everything. Boxes of training literature 
had not arrived, nor had test forms. 

A hostess and a librarian were needed 
for the service club, also a Red Cross field 
director. Highly skilled classification 
teams had to be found to interview and 
classify the women, who might be ex- 
pected to have job experience not ordinar- 
ily encountered by the Army. The Chief 
of Finance "strenuously objected" to fur- 
nishing a fiscal officer. The Corps of 
Engineers had no capable post utilities 
officer to offer. The $20,000 already 
allotted to the Seventh Corps Area was so 
restricted that Colonel Faith could not use 
it to purchase many of the miscellaneous 
items needed. There was no money for 
entertaining the scores of prominent 
people who desired to view the school. 

These assorted requests, coming as they 
did during the period when WAAC Head- 
quarters was struggling to establish its 
own organization and policies and to 
select officer candidates, quickly began to 
reveal still more of the difficulties which 
the Director's office must face as an oper- 
ating headquarters. Most of the fairly 
minor matters discussed with Colonel 
Faith could easily have been decentralized 
to the Seventh Corps Area had the WAAC 
been in the Army, but since it was a 
separate organization, all of its funds and 

>A (1) AP Release, June 1, 1942, quoted in JVew York 
Times, June 2, 1942. (2) Lee Carson, INS Release, 
May 19, 1942, in Los Angeles Examiner, May 20, 
1942. 

5fl Ltr, Faith to Ward, 18 May 50. OGMH. 

Sli Press Releases cited n. 54. 
Memo cited |n. 5~3] 

58 Persona] ltrs, memos, and transcripts of tp convs 
in: (1) Folder 'F, Tasker files, 1942 WAAC files, dated 
3, 8, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29 June, 3, 6, 20, 21, 28 July. (2) 
Tasker Staybacks, dated 3, 10 June, 6 July. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



61 



personnel allotments had to be handled 
separately and justified by the Director's 
office. 

The Adjutant General had meanwhile 
directed various Army commands to se- 
lect and send to Des Moines the men who 
would serve as instructors and cadre until 
Waacs could take over. 59 This personnel 
had no sooner reported than it was dis- 
covered that few if any of the instructors 
were qualified for the exacting and unpre- 
cedented task ahead. The director of 
training wrote: 

Out of 41 officers which we requested 
originally, we got one man who is fitted for 
the job at hand. The others are all doing their 
best to fill jobs far beyond their former 
experience. The new officers are all fine 
fellows (we are fortunate to have gotten no 
duds) but professionally. . . . 60 

As the time grew shorter, it became 
apparent that some deficiencies were 
inevitable. Requisitions for field and tech- 
nical manuals, circulars, forms, and Army 
Regulations were only partially filled or 
back-ordered, with no assurance from 
harassed supply depots that they could be 
filled within the next six months. The 
post's two mimeograph machines ran con- 
tinuously to duplicate missing material.* 11 
Funds for certain equipment did not arrive 
on time, and neither did some of the 
faculty. Colonel Tasker wrote, "The lieu- 
tenant who was to join your force cannot 
be located. Please let me know if others 
are missing." 82 Even ahead of these diffi- 
culties came the greatest problem of all, 
and an unexpected one — expansion. 

Expansion Plans, Summer of 1942 

In the midst of the WAAC's hurried 
preparations there occurred an event 
which was to bring far-reaching changes 



to all plans. On 13 June 1942 the Chief of 
Staff called into his office three Army offi- 
cers representing the Chief of Administra- 
tive Services, the Office of the Director, 
WAAC, and Aircraft Warning Service. 63 
General Marshall informed these men 
that in view of the approaching Army per- 
sonnel shortage it was his desire that every 
effort be made to organize and train per- 
sonnel of the Women's Army Auxiliary 
Corps at the earliest possible date. He felt 
it would be possible to have considerable 
numbers in active service a great deal 
sooner than existing plans provided. The 
staff officers were directed to formulate the 
necessary speed-up plans. 

All British precedent indicated that 
such a move meant great difficulty for the 
WAAC. British observers had commented, 
"It is difficult for the general public to 
realize the strain created by the great 
expansion of the women's services, built 
up as they have been . . . from almost 
non-existent foundations." G4 Director 
Hobby and the preplanners had fervently 
hoped for at least "time for trial and error 
before going into an assembly-line type of 
production." 65 

Nevertheless, WAAC expansion was a 
calculated risk that the Army's current 
situation made necessary. In spite of earlier 
optimistic estimates, the armed forces were 
now experiencing what historians called 
"the manpower crisis of the summer of 

59 Telg, TAG to CG Second Army at Memphis, 
Tenn., 22 May 42. AG 220.31 (5-23-42)EA, in 
G-l/15839-10 (7-8-42). 

150 Personal ltr, Jones to Tasker, 27 Jun 42. Folder T, 
Tasker files, 1942 WAAC files. 

G1 Ltr, Faith to Dir WAAC, 24 Aug 42. SPWA 
400.31 1 (8-24-42). 

02 Ltr, Tasker to Faith, 28 Jul 42. Tasker files, 1942 
WAAC files. 

63 Memo, Lt Col James L. Tarr to CofAdm Serv, 13 
Jun 42. G-l/15839-10 (7-8-42). 

64 Conditions in ike Three Women's Services. 

65 Ltr, Mudgctc to author, 19 Aug 4B. OCMH. 



62 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



1942." es The Army Ground Forces was 
already short more than 160,000 men. 
Only two days before General Marshall's 
decision the War Department had ad- 
mitted the necessity either to train units 
understrength or to slow down the activa- 
tion of new units, thus jeopardizing inva- 
sion plans. It was also being forced toward 
unpopular measures such as drafting 
eighteen-year-olds and fathers and cutting 
more deeply into defense industry and 
agriculture. 87 

On the other hand, the WAAC was 
concurrently rocking along with its modest 
prewar plan for about 12,000 women in 
the first year. Meanwhile, thousands of 
women were clamoring for admittance, 
and requisitions for over 80,000 of them 
had by this time been received from Army 
commands, of which at least 63,000 
seemed suitable for employment. This did 
not include the needs of overseas theaters 
and many other domestic commands 
which had also shown interest. 08 

Thus, WAAC expansion seemed logical 
in spite of its practical difficulties. The 
Army itself was faced with the same 
expansion problems, and men were train- 
ing with wooden guns, sleeping in tent 
camps, and wearing clothing often inap- 
propriate to the climate, all with greater 
success than might have been expected. 
The WAAC move was nevertheless the 
greater risk, since men could be drafted to 
face these hardships while women would 
have to volunteer. 

Plans for expansion were drawn up by 
the Services of Supply at hasty conferences 
on 14 and 15 June and submitted to the 
Chief of Staff on 17 June. The WAAC's 
ultimate strength was to be increased at 
least fivefold, from 12,000 to more than 
63,000. Within a year, by May of 1943, 
there would be in the field 25,000 instead 



of the 12,000 previously planned for that 
date. Within two years, or by April of 
1944, the entire 63,000 would be trained 
and at work. The divisions of the Services 
of Supply concerned believed it would be 
possible to manage this expansion success- 
fully, and gave it their written concur- 
rence. 13 ^ 

The plan was approved by the Chief of 
Staff, although within three months it, 
too, was to be discarded by the General 
Staff in favor of still greater expansion. 
This moment marked an important turn- 
ing point in Corps history: up to this date, 
it was obvious that the WAAC had been 
forced upon an unwilling Army by a com- 
bination of circumstances; from this time 
forward, its employment was not only 
voluntary but was extended more rapidly 
than its original sponsors had contem- 
plated. 

As the first result of the plan, construc- 
tion at Fort Des Moines was stepped up 
by 20 percent, and action was taken by 
condemnation to lease Des Moines hotels, 
garages, office buildings, college dormi- 

66 Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and 
Bell I. Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat 
Troops, in UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD 
WAR II (Washington, 1947), pp. 206-08. 

Remarks of Lt Gen Joseph T. McNarney, Min, 
Gen Council, 12 Oct 42. ' 

6S Memo, Brig Gen James E. Wharton, Dir Mil 
Pers SOS, for CofS, Attn: G-l, 17 Jun 42. 
G-l/15839-10. 

Command Requisitioned Approved 
Total 80,750 63,750 

AAF, AWS 31,600 31,600 

AAF. airfields 19,300 19,300 

AAF, ferrying commands 1,100 1,100 

Service Commands 6,450 6,450 

Signal Corps 7,500 " 2,500 

Antiaircraft commands 750 750 

Weather Bureau 2,050 2,050 

Post Exchanges 12,000 

a Disapproved 5,000 intended for overseas. 
8a Ibid. Concurrences: SOS Tng Div, Reqmts Div, 

Pers Div, Opns Div, CofAdm Serv, and Dir WAAC; 

also Rctg Div AGO. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



63 



tories and classrooms, and even the local 
coliseum, so that specialist training might 
be given in the city, leaving more room for 
basic trainees at the post. 70 A tent camp 
was set up at Fort Des Moines for an addi- 
tional 634 male cadre, who were intended 
to stay only four months, until Waacs 
could graduate and replace them. Action 
was not taken until 3 July to order these 
men in, and most arrived at Des Moines 
scarcely one jump ahead of the women 
whom they were to instruct. 

It was now determined that the first 
officer candidate class of 440, which began 
on 20 July, would be followed by classes of 
125 women weekly until at least 1,300 
officers had been trained. Officer training 
time had already been cut from three 
months to six weeks. It had also been 
decided to start the first class of enrolled 
women soon after the first officer candi- 
date class, without waiting for WAAC offi- 
cers to graduate and assist in their train- 
ing. Enrolled women would have only a 
brief four weeks of basic training, instead 
of the originally planned three months. 71 

Specialist schools — for cooks, clerks, 
and drivers — would be ready to function 
in August when the first enrolled women 
graduated from basic training. Thus it was 
believed that it would be possible as early 
as 9 November 1 942 to begin sending three 
fully trained headquarters companies, 
with officers and cadre, to field stations 
each week, and to train and return to their 
station 300 Aircraft Warning Service 
Waacs weekly, beginning in September. 72 

The First WAAC Officer Candidate Class, 
20 July -29 August 1942 

By 20 July 1942, with the opening of the 
first officer candidate class, 73 the mount- 
ing interest of press and public reached a 



point of near-hysteria. The old post at 
Fort Des Moines swarmed with digni- 
taries, invited and uninvited, who braved 
the steamy midsummer Iowa weather in 
order to view history in the making. Every 
angle of the new scene was well docu- 
mented by the press, while photographers 
invaded the barracks in search of the still- 
elusive WAAC underwear. Authorities 
were particularly alarmed to discover that 
a number of women reporters had resolved 
to participate in the first week of process- 
ing in order to reveal to the waiting public 
a woman's every sensation as she was con- 
verted into a soldier. Because it was not 
yet known whether the women's sensations 
would be printable, this request was re- 
fused, and the press was informed that the 
post was theirs for one day only. After 
that, a two-week news blackout was to be 
enforced while the Army and the women 
became acquainted in comparative pri- 
vacy. This step seemed necessary to avoid 
complete disruption of training, but was 
later believed by some staff officers to have 
alienated certain writers and news agen- 
cies. 74 

Before crowds of interested Des Moines 
citizens the arriving Waacs were whisked 

Memo cited fru 631 Also Folder, Lease of Real 
Estate, 27 Jun 42, SPWA 481 (6-7-42). 

71 Memo, Preplanners for G-l, 2 Apr 42. Tasker 
Staybacks. 

72 I 1) Memo, Brig Gen Idwal H. Edwards, G-3, for 
CofS! 3 Jul 42. WD GOT 291.9 WAAC, in CofS 291.9 
WAAC. (2) 1st lad, AG WAAC for Dir Mil Pers SOS 
through CofAdm Serv, 29 Jun 42. WA 320.2 
(6-25-42). Copy in Tasker Staybacks. 

7:1 Dir WAAC for CofS, 4 Aug 42, 1st Ind, Exec Off 
CofAdm Serv, for Dir WAAC, 10 Aug 42. SPAAI 320 
WAAC, in Dir Adm Serv ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

14 If no other source is stated, descriptions of this 
first class are based upon: (1) accounts given by 
women participants to the author, and upon her own 
impressions as a member of Company 1. Other ac- 
counts differ only as to whether Company 1, 2, 3, or 
4 was the best company. (2) Hist of 1st WAAC Tng 
Cen. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



65 



from incoming trains to waiting Army 
trucks. At the fort processing moved effi- 
ciently and included a brief physical 
check, an immediate meal, and assign- 
ment to one of the four companies. Each 
woman was assigned a bed, a wall locker, 
a footlocker, and a metal chair, and soon 
discovered that the Army had no bath- 
rooms, only something two flights of stairs 
away called a latrine. Male company offi- 
cers and cadre clung to their orderly and 
supply rooms, designating the first arrivals 
as barracks guides for the rest and hastily, 
if inaccurately, informing all comers that 
only married men with children had been 
given this assignment. 

The issuance of uniforms was the main 
interest. Mobilized at the clothing ware- 
house were almost all of the saleswomen 
and fitters from department stores in Des 
Moines, and the Waacs were passed down 
an assembly line from one curtained booth 
to another. The underwear and founda- 
tion garments proved to be of excellent 
quality, although the rich mud-brown 
color of slips and panties was slightly dis- 
concerting. 

The morning was not an hour old 
before more was learned about women's 
uniforms than had been discovered in the 
past six months of research. It was imme- 
diately apparent that the articles shipped 
to Des Moines by the Philadelphia Quar- 
termaster Depot bore little resemblance to 
the model that had been approved by the 
preplanners. The heavy cotton khaki 
skirts were cut as if to fit men's hips, and 
buckled and wrinkled across the stomach, 
so that even the slimmest Waac presented 
a potbellied appearance after she had sat 
down once. When Waacs walked or 
marched the skirts climbed well above the 
knee, unless a desperate grip on the skirt 
was substituted for the required arm 



swing. The hot, stiff cotton jackets, made 
of men's materials, draped as becomingly 
as a strait jacket and were of much the 
same texture. Shrieks of dismay arose as 
women tried on the WAAC caps, un- 
charitably christened "Hobby hats," 
which were not only unbecoming to many 
women but also cut the forehead and were 
easily warped, crushed, or soiled. 

Furthermore, the Quartermaster size 
range had apparently been set up for a 
race of giants, and there were not enough 
small sizes in outer garments. As extensive 
alterations were necessary to cut down 
larger sizes, most of the women emerged 
with nothing to wear for a day or two ex- 
cept the brown-striped seersucker exercise 
suits — short button-front dresses worn 
over matching bloomers. However, the 
cameramen were diverted to a few women 
whose uniforms fitted without alteration; 
these were placed in the front row for 
platoon pictures or posed beside the post's 
one cannon. 

The rest of the processing, carried on 
intermittently during the week, closely 
followed the Army pattern for men. There 
were simultaneous tetanus, typhoid, and 
smallpox shots; outside the dispensary 
stood an embarrassed Army sergeant with 
smelling salts, which actually proved little 
needed. The Articles of War were solemnly 
explained, although they applied to a 
Waac only in the improbable event that 
she should find herself "in the field." 
Lessons were given in bedmaking, care of 
clothing and equipment, the difference be- 
tween fall out and fall in, the beginnings of 
close order drill, and the other Army 
orientation that for men was usually given 
at reception centers. Women were given 
the standard Army General Classification 
Test (AGCT), and their skills were classi- 
fied. 



66 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



On the fourth day, with processing com- 
pleted and the women at last neatly uni- 
formed in khaki skirts and shirts, Director 
Hobby addressed the group for the first 
time. She had been at the Fort since the 
first day, observing somewhat wistfully. 
Now she spoke words calculated to remove 
the military trees and reveal the forest, to 
give the women perspective on history and 
where they now stood in it: 

May fourteenth is a date already written 
into the history books of tomorrow. . . . 
Long-established precedents of military tra- 
dition have given way to pressing need. Total 
war is, by definition, endlessly expansive. . . . 
You are the first women to serve. . . . Never 
forget it. . . . 

You have just made the change from 
peacetime pursuits to wartime tasks — from 
the individualism of civilian life to the 
anonymity of mass military life. You have 
given up comfortable homes, highly paid 
positions, leisure. You have taken off silk and 
put on khaki. And all for essentially the same 
reason — you have a debt and a date. A debt 
to democracy, a date with destiny. . . . 

You do not come into a Corps that has an 
established tradition. You must make your 
own. But in making your own, you do have 
one tradition — the integrity of all the brave 
American women of all time who have loved 
their country. You, as you gather here, are 
living history. On your shoulders will rest the 
military reputation and the civilian recogni- 
tion of this Corps. I have no fear that any 
woman here will fail the standards of the 
Corps. 

From now on you are soldiers, defending a 
free way of life. Your performance will set the 
standards of the Corps. You will live in the 
spotlight. Even though the lamps of experi- 
ence are dim, few if any mistakes will be 
permitted you. 

You are no longer individuals. You wear 
the uniform of the Army of the United States. 
Respect that uniform. Respect all that it 
stands for. Then the world will respect all 
that the Corps stands for. . . . Make the 
adjustment from civilian to military life with- 
out faltering and without complaint. . . . 



In the final analysis, the only testament 
free people can give to the quality of freedom 
is the way in which they resist the forces that 
peril freedom. ' ' 

As one of the women later said, "It was 
only then that I really knew what I had 
done in enlisting. I looked around the 
roomful of women and suddenly had no 
more doubts that it was right. My feet 
stopped hurting, and the war and my 
place in it became very real." 

The Training Course 

From this time on the work began in 
earnest. The women were up at five-thirty 
or before in order to be neatly dressed for 
six o'clock reveille, a process that took 
most women somewhat longer than men. 
After making beds, cleaning, and picking 
up cigarette butts and photographers' 
flash bulbs in the area, the women 
marched to breakfast and then began 
classes, which lasted until five in the after- 
noon, with an intermission for lunch. After 
supper there was a required study hour 
and then a session devoted to the washing 
and pressing of uniforms and the shining 
of shoes. 

The WAAC basic and officer candidate 
courses were identical with corresponding 
courses for men, except for the omission of 
combat subjects. Women studied military 
sanitation and first aid, military customs 
and courtesy, map reading, defense against 
chemical attack, defense against air attack, 
interior guard, company administration, 
supply, mess management, and other 
familiar subjects. A few courses were more 
or less adapted to women. The hygiene 
course was designed by the local hospital 

7: ' WDBPR Press Release, 23 Jul 42, revised copy, 
Remarks by Mrs. Hobby, Dir WAAC, to Students at 
WAAC Tng Cen. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



67 



personnel to apply to women's hygiene. 
The Army organization course contained 
vague references to WAAC organization, 
which no one even in Washington under- 
stood too well. Drill was without arms, 
and the physical training course was 
devised and conducted by a civilian con- 
sultant. 70 

The military courtesies course, which 
set out to permit no deviations for women, 
soon ran into the inescapable fact that 
there were socially accepted differences for 
women to which the Army must perforce 
conform. For example, women of some 
faiths could not remove their hats in 
church as was proper for men, and most 
women felt self-conscious about removing 
hats in such places as dining rooms and 
lobbies. Endless commotion was also 
caused when women attempted to open 
doors and show other required courtesies 
for men who outranked them. Army offi- 
cers were, for the first time, confronted 
with a situation in which a man might be 
either an officer or a gentleman, but not 
both; there resulted much sprinting for 
doorways and leaping out of the wrong 
side of vehicles to avoid the eager assist- 
ance of a nearby Waac. 

As the women learned about the Army, 
the Army also began to learn the many 
minor yet important items about the ad- 
ministration of women that could be 
learned only by experience. Oddly 
enough, these were not the expected diffi- 
culties that the planners had feared, for 
the women were agreeable about inspec- 
tions and did not have hysterics in the 
barracks or faint at the discomforts of 
latrine ablutions. Instead, unique specific 
needs arose, more practical than psycho- 
logical. 

For example, a few laundry tubs and 
ironing boards had been provided, al- 



though men's barracks ordinarily did not 
have them. On the first day, the Waacs as 
one woman headed for these — a true 
WAAC pattern which was not to vary 
through hundreds of stations in the field — 
and it was discovered that the women con- 
sidered the number of laundry tubs, drying 
racks, and irons inadequate. Women stood 
in line until late at night for a turn at the 
irons. Many Waacs were found to have 
brought their own irons, in numbers which 
so frequently blew out barracks fuses that 
their use had to be limited. The allowance 
of four khaki shirts and four skirts did not 
permit use of local laundries, which took a 
week, for the women considered that neat 
appearance in the sticky hot climate re- 
quired at least one and often two clean 
shirts daily. 

Lack of opportunity to launder and iron 
her shirt for the next day was to prove a 
greater morale hazard to a woman soldier 
than any lack of movies, camp shows, and 
pinball machines. The women's anxiety 
about the matter gave strong support to a 
fact which civilian psychologists had al- 
ready suspected, and which was to prove a 
new problem to station commanders: that 
a woman's grooming was vitally con- 
nected not only with her morale but with 
her health and actually with her conduct. 77 

Similarly, the women felt that the 
Army provided too few brooms, too little 
scrubbing powder, and not enough dust- 
cloths. The women also suffered some- 
what, as did male recruits, from sleepless- 
ness, sore feet, heat and humidity, and — 
somewhat more than men did — from the 
general lack of privacy. 

Other expected difficulties with wom- 

7,i For a full discussion of physical tr aining and all 
other courses, see below, £h. XXXH~| 

77 See later chapters, particularly |XXII | and 

Eocxi.l 




FIRST OFFICER CANDIDATE CLASS, 20 July-29 August 1942. Left page, top, 
reveille; middle, instruction in Military Customs and Courtesy; bottom, close order drill. Right 
page, top, classroom instruction; middle, physical training; bottom, chow line. 



70 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



en's administration did not arise. Most 
Waacs were entranced with parades and 
bands and ceremonies of all sorts. They 
took well to drill, and after an exhausting 
day enthusiastic squads could be seen in 
the summer twilight, giving themselves 
extra drill practice. One company officer 
alleged, "They learn more in a day than 
my squads of men used to learn in a 
week." They were not disconcerted by the 
necessity for discipline and regimentation; 
their shoes were shined, uniforms spotless, 
beds tightly made, footlockers neat. 
Neither did they prove especially subject 
to quarrels, but appeared to be as good 
comrades as were the members of men's 
units. 

On the other hand, the exciting public- 
ity about the Corps and the steep compe- 
tition for places had prepared women very 
little for the fact that the Army lacked 
wings and a halo. One disappointment 
was the caliber of the instruction at the 
training center. Ninety percent college 
women, the Waacs expected classes of 
challenging difficulty. Realizing this, 
WAAC Headquarters had sent Military 
Personnel Division a long account of the 
qualifications desired in the instructors 
assigned, saying, "The results to be ob- 
tained at the WAAC Training Center will 
depend in a large measure on the type of 
instructors which are detailed. . . . Time 
is too short to permit training these indi- 
viduals after their arrival at Fort Des 
Moines." 78 

Colonel Faith felt that the resulting 
selection had been good, since the instruc- 
tors were a "group of fine and sincere 
young men" who, although with little 
Army experience, were for the most part 
graduates of The Adjutant General's 
School or others of similar level. 79 Never- 



theless, it became apparent to the students 
on the first day of classes that most of the 
instructors were not teachers, not public 
speakers, not college men, and sometimes 
without Army experience in the subjects 
they were teaching. It was a lucky young 
instructor who did not confront in every 
class some students with college training 
or years of teaching experience. The situa- 
tion was similar to that which the WAVES 
were to encounter a few months later, of 
which the Navy noted, "The early indoc- 
trination was largely farcical, with youth- 
ful male Reservists parroting material they 
had just received, to women their seniors 
. . . especially in teaching experience. 
Politeness and good humor on both sides 
made the situation tolerable," 80 The 
Waacs' most respected instructors were 
often the teachers of company administra- 
tion, newly commissioned former sergeants 
who really knew the peculiarities of the 
morning report, although one of them 
startled his first class by welcoming them 
with, "Put dem hats on dose tables." 8 ' 
There were other situations that the 
women solemnly noted for correction in 
the days when they would be running the 
Corps. All companies habitually marched 
out to mess at the same time, so that the 
last of the 440 stood in line for an hour. 
The aptitude tests were given at 7:00 P.M. 
of a stifling summer evening, immediately 
after a heavy meal. The summer uniforms 
were like nothing ever before worn by 
woman, with five sweat-soaked layers of 
cloth around the waist and three around 



7!i 1st Ind, WAAC Hq for Dir Mil Pers SOS, 29 Jun 
42. WA 320.2 (6-25-42), Tasker Stay-backs. 
751 Ltr citcc ] n. 
s " WAVES Hist. 

»' Vol., General Information, SPWA 314.7, WAAC 
Hist File. 



THE WAAC'S FIRST SUMMER 



71 



the neck. 82 The young officers did not 
seem to know how to put in their places 
the female apple polishers and classroom 
show-offs whose tactics were transparent 
to other women. The food was good and 
abundant but not always attractively pre- 
pared. These and similar occurrences gave 
the first hint of what was repeatedly dem- 
onstrated: that Waacs were often less tol- 
erant of imperfection than men — a trait 
which some Army psychologists believed 
was due less to their sex than to the fact 
that all were volunteers, since male volun- 
teers also frequently showed greater im- 
patience than did draftees. 83 

This first class was nevertheless still too 
uncertain as to correct procedure, and too 
eager to please, to be very critical. Gen- 
eral morale was at unprecedented heights. 
Women stood retreat with real apprecia- 
tion of the ceremony. They trembled lest 
their company officers give them a gig. 
They crossed streets and ran out of door- 
ways to practice their salute on everything 
that glistened, until the outnumbered 
male officers were forced to flee the front 
walks. No imperfection seemed of much 
importance when weighed against the 
general desire to justify the Army's admis- 
sion of women to its ranks. 

Graduation 

On the eve of graduation there occurred 
one further test of the new soldiers' soldier- 
liness: the release of the roster of class 
standing. Herein, it was discovered that 
young women who had dated their com- 
pany officers had mysteriously soared in 
rating to outrank the older women who 
had led their classes in training. 84 

Since many of the company officers 
were ex-college boys of 19, any woman 



over 30 had evidently appeared antique. 
Katherine R. Goodwin, who later headed 
some 50,000 Army Service Forces Wacs, 
recalled: "Captain B. called me in and 
told me I was so old he didn't see how I 
could have made the journey to Des 
Moines, and that he couldn't imagine 
what use the Army could ever make of 
me, and perhaps I had better go home 
before I got any older." 

Angry members rose in class to ask an 
explanation of the mathematics involved 
in rating, and an inquiry was launched by 
WAAC Headquarters. In general it was 
found that the honest tendency of the 
male officer was to consider a glamorous 
young woman, or a mannish loud-voiced 
one, the best material for leadership of 
women, whereas the women themselves 
had given highest ratings to women of 
mature judgment, and to those with a 
faculty for sweeping and polishing their 
share of the area. It was concluded that 
the problem would correct itself in later 
classes where women company officers 
had replaced men. However, the same 
situation was later to cause some difficulty 
in the field where men ordinarily selected 
and promoted WAC officers. 

Graduation day, on 29 August, saw 436 
new WAAC third officers, all with shining 
new gold bars but no WAAC insignia, 

1,3 Around waist: (1) heavy jersey panties, (2) sturdy 
girdle, (3) heavy jersey slip, (4) cotton shirt, (5) dou- 
ble 8.2 chino waistband of skirt: plus for dress uni- 
form: (6) heavy cotton jacket, (7) double jacket belt. 
Around neck: (1) neckband of shirt (about four layers 
of cotton), (2)' mohair tie; and for dress (3) jacket 
collar. 

M Opinion of.Maj Albert Preston, Jr., MG, head of 
Consult ation Serv at Ft Des Moines. See below, Gh. 
|XXXI.| 

81 Rating was based one third each on grades, pla- 
toon rating, and company officer rating, but in the 
final results the 1 last item was found to have out- 
weighed the other two. 



72 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



which The Quartermaster General was 
late in procuring. Mrs. Hobby spoke to 
the women, and Congresswoman Rogers 
told them: ''You are soldiers and belong 
to America. Every hour must be your 
finest hour." 85 The Army was represented 
by Maj. Gen. James A. Ulio, The Adju- 
tant General, and Maj. Gen. Frederick E. 
Uhl, Commanding General, Seventh 
Corps Area. General Marshall personally 



wrote out a congratulatory telegram for 
Director Hobby, saying, "Please act for 
me in welcoming them into the Army. 
This is only the beginning of a magnificent 
war service by the women of America." 86 



8r ' Congressional Record, Vol. 08, No. 151, p. 7242, 
August 1942. 

s,i (1) WDBPR Press Release, 8 Sep 42. (2) TWX, 
CofS for Mrs. Hobby at Ft Dcs Moines. WDCSA 
291.2 (8-29-42). 



CHAPTER IV 



September-October 1942: 
Beginnings of Field Duties 



Among the more important officer as- 
signments were those of the eighteen 
carefully selected members of the first 
graduating class who arrived in WAAC 
Headquarters on 17 September 1942. 
They reported with a formality that de- 
lighted Regular Army staff members, hav- 
ing been particularly trained by Colonel 
Faith in how to knock, enter, and salute. 1 
Third Officer proving unwieldy for direct 
address, the use of Lieutenant and 
Ma'am — instead of Sir, as WAVES offi- 
cers were addressed — was adopted. 2 

For their own guidance, the Director 
and her advisers decided that WAAC 
Headquarters should be irreproachably 
military, with salutes rendered when 
entering the office of a superior, and with 
a command-type organization wherein no 
junior member of one section conferred 
with a junior member of another except 
through their respective Army section 
chiefs. The Director observed, "War De- 
partment officials will have to get used to 
the idea of treating Waacs as officers 
rather than as women." 

The impeccably formal behavior of the 
Waacs did cause comment, not to say con- 
sternation, in War Department offices; it 
also was to impose considerable handi- 
caps on staff operation, which did not 
reach maximum efficiency for many 



months, until the WAAC was part of the 
Army and could stop being military. The 
very junior WAAC members reported that 
few of them ever at this time saw the Di- 
rector or had opportunity to influence 
Army policy. However, they grasped their 
assignments with rapidity and covered the 
scheduled three-month indoctrination 
course in three weeks. 

Prominent among the eighteen mem- 
bers were Third Officers Helen H. Woods 
and Marjorie D. Fling, the former civilian 
assistants, who were now assigned, respec- 
tively, to Control Division and to Office 
Management. Third Officer Emily E. 
Davis, a former insurance company em- 
ployee, was assigned to a position in the 
Executive Office. An especial point was 
made of securing a Negro Waac, Third 
Officer Harriet West, as one of those as- 
signed to Personnel Division, in order that 
minority needs might not be overlooked in 
planning. Other offices receiving Waacs 
included Public Relations, Supply, and 
Plans and Training. 

Possibly the most important assignment 



' All references to staff opinions or meetings, unless 
otherwis e specified, are from th e WAAC Daily Jour- 
nal. (See [Bibliographi cal Note.j 

2 Office Memo 22, 15 Sep 42. SPWA 300. This 
directs that they not be called Third Officer except in 
correspondence, and never Miss nor Mrs. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



75 



was that of the Director's first WAAC 
aide, Third Officer Betty Bandel, formerly 
a reporter, music and drama critic, and 
woman's page editor for an Arizona news- 
paper. Her duties at once tended to ex- 
pand beyond those of aide, for which in 
her own opinion she was the world's least 
qualified. She recalled later a moment in 
a London hotel when "the Director came 
to herself to find that she was sewing a but- 
ton on my uniform; she pointed a finger at 
me and screamed, 'You're fired!' " Lieu- 
tenant Bandel came to be employed chiefly 
as a traveling deputy; on visits to field sta- 
tions the two officers developed tactics 
whereby, if the Director was hopelessly 
immobilized by local dignitaries, the aide 
unobtrusively detached herself and ex- 
plored the enlisted women's viewpoints. 

Mew Graduating Classes 

Meanwhile, a steady stream of new 
members, officer and enrolled, graduated 
weekly at Fort Des Moines. Most initial 
assignments were naturally to the training 
center. Enrolled women were shortly do- 
ing most of Fort Des Moines' office work, 
driving its vehicles, and staffing its messes. 
There was even a Waac bugler, and a 
band was being organized. WAAC officers 
at once took over much of the instruction: 
a former aircraft spotter taught the course 
in Identification of Enemy Aircraft; home 
economics teachers revised the mess man- 
agement courses; a graduate chemist 
taught the course in Defense Against 
Chemical Attack. WAAC officers were 
also assigned to staff the incoming training 
companies, with the aid of Army "tactical 
advisers." No major responsibilities were 
turned over to women, but they were as- 
signed as understudies to various section 
chiefs. 



During these weeks Colonel Faith re- 
ported himself as harassed by all the ills 
known to similar growing institutions, and 
a few previously unknown. With thou- 
sands of new students scattered through 
officer candidate school, basic training, 
administrative school, motor transport 
school, and cooks and bakers school, the 
training center was still lacking in train- 
ing manuals, film strips, balopticons, 
photographic equipment, and instruc- 
tional materials of all kinds. For lack of 
typewriters, the administrative school 
could not train typists in Army methods; 
it was to be almost a year before a typing 
school could be opened. The motor trans- 
port school, unable to obtain vehicles, 
graduated women drivers who had driven 
an Army vehicle only once, and built its 
own demonstration engines from junk sal- 
vaged from nearby Army posts. The bur- 
den of cutting orders for hundreds of 
graduates was a heavy one, but teletype- 
writer service to Washington was not to be 
obtainable for eight months. 

Colonel Faith's increasingly urgent re- 
ports of these matters were necessarily re- 
ferred to the Services of Supply's Military 
Training Division, which delayed action 
while making further inquiry into the 
basis of his estimates and whether he had 
properly staggered schedules in order to 
reduce requirements. 3 

The most alarming shortage, however, 
was that of winter uniforms. For reasons 
unknown to the training center, The 



(1) Ltr. Comdt to Dir WAAC, 24 Aug 42, and 
Inds. SPWA 400.312 (8-24-42). (2) Min, Stf Conf, 14 
Nov 42, WAAC Daily Journal. (3) Ltr, 1st WAAC 
Trig Cen to Dir WAAC, 15 Feb 43. SPW r A 400.34 
(3-21-42) (1) sec 3. (4) M/R, Stf Conf. 6 Jan 43. 
Folder, Memos Prior to 7 Jan 43 in WAC Planning, 
WAAC Planning files. (5) Memo, WAAC Hq for 
CofAdm Serv, 18 Jul 42. WA 483 (7-18-42). 



76 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Quartermaster General's specified ship- 
ment schedules were not being met. The 
supply of summer uniforms became er- 
ratic, while almost no winter clothing of 
any sort — underwear, coats, or uniforms — 
had been received. The Iowa weather 
proved un-co-operative, and an unseason- 
able cold spell struck in September, blank- 
eting Fort Des Moines in snow. Tempera- 
tures stood near the freezing mark inside 
the newly constructed barracks and class- 
rooms, known informally as Boomtown, 
where heating equipment had not yet 
been installed. 

Within a few days the training center 
was plunged into a crisis of health — and, 
it was feared, of public relations — as re- 
spiratory disorders swept the student body. 
Hospitals filled suddenly, while continued 
instruction was made difficult by coughing 
and sneezing in the unheated classrooms. 

At this point Director Hobby herself 
hastened to the training center. Putting on 
the summer raincoat the women were 
wearing, she immediately caught a bad 
cold, and, more practically, telephoned to 
higher headquarters in Washington in a 
manner that evoked a promise to expedite 
clothing shipments without delay. She also 
took the precaution of demanding several 
thousand enlisted men's overcoats from a 
neighboring station's surplus stock, and 
these were on their way before nightfall. 
They were to be worn all winter while ac- 
tion was being expedited in Washington. 4 

The men's overcoats proved excellent 
substitutes not only for WAAC coats but 
also for mittens and leggings, since they 
covered hands and feet and trailed on the 
ground. Unfortunately, Waacs found 
them so amusing in appearance that they 
could not forbear taking pictures, which 
they sent indiscriminately to friends and 
relatives, to the dismay of recruiters. 



Close behind the Director came the 
Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Joseph T. 
McNarney, who verified her comments 
and immediately wrote to the Services of 
Supply: "Although the weather was cold, 
the Waacs were still wearing summer uni- 
forms. They had been issued enlisted men's 
coats as an expedient. Please look into the 
matter of expediting winter uniforms." 5 
Meanwhile, a brief Indian summer inter- 
vened to make summer uniforms again 
adequate. 

In spite of supply difficulties, officers 
who inspected the training center in late 
September and early October reported 
that an excellent state of training had 
been attained. The WAAC graduates, 
both officer and enrolled, won unanimous 
praise. What seemed most remarkable to 
reviewing officers was the somewhat unre- 
markable fact that women could march 
and drill, a sight which melted the sternest 
critics. WAAC Headquarters' superior, 
General Grunert, Chief of Administrative 
Services, reported upon his return from 
Des Moines in early October: 

I was received at the entrance to the post 
by the band and an escort of honor which I 
complimented on its smart appearance, cor- 
rect procedure, and excellent marching. . . . 
I was particularly impressed by the uniform 
smart appearance of all personnel, with the 
instructional setup, with the orderliness and 
arrangement of quarters, and with the punc- 
tilious saluting. ... A late afternoon review 
was a gratifying sight to behold. The forma- 
tions, evolutions, marching, and saluting 
compared favorably with the best I have seen 
anywhere. . . . 

I feel assured that the WAAC is off to an 
excellent start and that the commands re- 



J From: (1) Persons at Des Moines at the time, 
including the author; (2) the Waac aide to the Direc- 
tor, 3d O Betty Bandel. 

5 Memo, DCofS for Somervell, 1 1 Oct 42. WDCSA 
291.9 (9-1 1-42). 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



77 



ceiving WAAC units will be agreeably sur- 
prised to find how much these units can 
contribute to the war effort. 6 

Also, in spite of the inconveniences of 
supply and climate, the women's morale 
remained high. Psychiatrists later re- 
marked that the women seemed pleased 
with the idea that they were approximat- 
ing the hardships of Army men. Whatever 
the cause, the trainees joked through their 
sniffles, laughed at their own appearance, 
and felt great pride in their new status and 
enthusiasm for the Corps' future. At night, 
wrapped in blankets, they sat on the floor 
in freezing unfurnished dayrooms to sing 
Army songs, including one written by a 
member of an early class which soon 
swept the training center: 

All you fighting men, keep on fighting to win, 
For the WAAC is in back of you ; 
If a plane you fly, keep it flying high 
For the WAAC is in back of you. 
Spread the news around that we're victory 
bound, 

And our hearts we pledge anew 
That our flag shall wave o'er the home of the 
brave, 

And the WAAC is in back of you. 7 

The character and ability of the incom- 
ing recruits also continued to receive ap- 
proval. By the end of September there 
were more than 3,000 Waacs at Des 
Moines, including 792 officers, with more 
arriving daily. Some 3,300 more had also 
been enrolled but could not yet be called 
to active duty for lack of training space. 8 
The average ability of these recruits re- 
mained surprisingly higher than that of 
the Army or the civilian population. In 
the month of September, some 60 percent 
were found to be in the first two AGCT 
groups, I and II, having scores ordinarily 
required only of officers, and only 0.8 per- 
cent were in the fifth or lowest group. 6 



Furthermore, every recruit possessed a 
civilian skill expected to be readily useful 
to the Army. 

The Second WAAC Training Center 

It had been known since summer that a 
second WAAC training center would be 
required to meet the expansion program 
directed by the General Staff. The only 
site offered the WAAC was that of Day- 
tona Beach, Florida, where it was pro- 
posed to train women in leased city build- 
ings, rather than to dispossess the 
occupants of any established military post. 
It was also believed that the climate would 
prevent suffering from the current lack of 
winter clothing for women. 

However, soon after Colonel Faith first 
inspected the proposed facilities, Director 
Hobby appealed to the Services of Supply 
for any other location, stating that a mili- 
tary atmosphere and reasonable discipline 
could not be inculcated at any such estab- 
lishment. The town itself was a resort area, 
with streets perpetually crowded with sail- 



B Ltr, CofAdm Serv to Dir WAAC, 6 Oct 42. 
SPAAE 333.1. Such favorable impressions of Des 
Moines do not appear to have been exactly acciden- 
tal. A staff note concerning other important visitors 
observes privately: "Des Moines will be prepared to 
. . . put on the same sort of show which has been 
arranged for General Grunert." MLn, Stf Mtg, 6 
Oct 42. 

7 By Ruby Jane DougLass. WAAC Parodies, pam- 
phlet published by WAAC Publications Office, Ft. 
Des Moines, May 1943. Copy in OCMH. 

8 (1) Memo, Stat Br GS for CofS, 6 Oct 42. 
WDGSA 291.9. (2) Memo, Dir WAAC for CofAdm 
Serv, 28 Sep 42. SPWA 291.9 (9-28-42) E. Copy in 
SPWA 314.7 sec 3. 

"Table III, in History of Military Training: 
WAAC/WAC Training, Army Service Forces, pre- 
pared by Maj. Lavinia L. Redd, WAC, 5 Feb 46. 
OCMH. Hereafter cited as ASF Hist of WAC Tng. 
An even higher average score in July was due to the 
relatively large number of officer candidates, but by 
September there were only 350 in this group. 



78 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ors, soldiers, and coastguardmen from 
nearby military stations. For barracks, it 
was proposed to house the Waac trainees 
in a number of scattered hotels and apart- 
ment houses, ranging in capacity from 37 
to 600, as well as auto courts, inns, and vil- 
las; and a 6,000- woman tent camp was to 
be built in a cantonment area. For class- 
rooms there were to be provided the Meth- 
odist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches, 
a golf course, several garages and store- 
rooms, the city auditorium, the Fifth Ave- 
nue Gown Shop, a theater, and other 
business houses. There were no recreation 
facilities other than the resort nightspots 
plentifully sprinkled among the buildings 
to be leased. 10 

In her appeal to the Services of Supply, 
Director Hobby asked instead for any 
regular Army post, preferably part of Fort 
Benjamin Harrison, which currently had 
vacant space. 11 This request was refused 
by the Services of Supply, the various 
facilities at Daytona were leased by the 
Army, and Colonel Faith was ordered to 
divide his staff and to activate the Second 
WAAC Training Center on 10 October, 
with recruits to arrive 1 December. 

Both Army and WAAC cadre at Des 
Moines were divided as equally as possi- 
ble, and efforts were made to duplicate 
courses of study, instructional materials, 
and the operation of staff sections. Over 
his written protest, Colonel Faith was as- 
signed as commandant of the Second 
WAAC Training Center, with the promise 
that he could return to Des Moines in six 
months. A member of the Des Moines 
staff was promoted to be commandant at 
the First WAAC Training Center, but 
lasted only a few days after planning a 
series of measures considered discrimina- 
tory by the National Association for the 
Advancement of Colored People. A third 



commandant was then selected — Col. 
John Hoag, Field Artillery, who was to re- 
main at the First and Fifth WAAC Train- 
ing Centers for the next seven months. 12 

Aircraft Warning Service Units 

The first enrolled women to reach the 
field were those of the Aircraft Warning 
Service, to which shipment of units began 
in early September. These units went out 
complete with officers and formally acti- 
vated under Tables of Organization for 
operations and filter companies. 13 Within 
less than two months, nine operations 
companies and eighteen filter companies 
were in the field, located at First Fighter 
Command stations along the east coast — 
New York, Norfolk, Boston, Philadelphia, 
Portland, Albany, Harrisburg, Baltimore, 
Syracuse, Wilmington, Charleston, Jack- 
sonville, and Miami. 14 

In preparing these units for the field, 
there became apparent in rapid succes- 
sion the unexpected problems that these 
early WAAC field units were to face. 
Although a number of the units went to 
northern and eastern stations where win- 
ter clothing was already required for men, 
winter uniforms were not available at the 
training center, and the first units went 



i« (1) Min, Stf Mtg, 24 Aug 42. WAAC Daily Jour- 
nal. (2) Ltr, Faith to Chief of Mil Hist. 18 May 50. 
OCMH. 

11 (1) Memo cited In. 8f21l (2) Min, Stf Mtgs, 24 
Aug and 29 Sep 42. (3) Rpt, Daytona Beach, WAAC 
Housing files; (4) Memo, CG SOS for CofEngrs, 30 
Nov 42. SPWA 600.1 (7-2-42) sec 1. 

(1) Memo, CofS for G- 1 , 15 Oct 42. WDCSA 
291.9. (2) Interv with Actg Dir WAAC who received 
NAACP in Dir Hobby's absence, 9 Oct 48. 

1:1 T/O 35-37, WAAC Opns Co, AWS, 4 Jul 42; 
T/O 35-57, WAAC Filter Co, AWS, 4 Jul 42; Also 
series of Memos in AG 320.2 (6- 1 5-42) ( 1 4) Const and 
Activ of WAAC Units. 

M WDBPR Press Release, 26 Nov 42. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



79 



out in summer khaki. By October the sup- 
ply of even this was exhausted, and whole 
units trained, graduated, and crossed the 
country by public carrier, costumed only 
in the short seersucker exercise dresses and 
bloomers. The long-curious citizens who 
lined the streets to see a Waac in uniform 
were reportedly thrown into a state which 
wavered between panic and hilarity. The 
problem soon became one of health as well 
as publicity, as Waacs in short-sleeved 
seersucker marched to work through the 
October weather of Maine and Massa- 
chusetts. 15 

It had been planned to have WAAC re- 
gional directors on hand to complete ad- 
vance arrangements for the women, but 
this had not been possible because of the 
Services of Supply's continued delay in 
publishing authorization for these posi- 
tions. In the total absence of published 
Army Regulations on the subject, the Air 
Forces' station commanders fended for the 
women as best they could in the unfamiliar 
matters of auxiliary supply, finance, and 
discipline. Luckily, few discharges, promo- 
tions, or other personnel actions were yet 
required. It was supposedly understood 
that the companies were assigned to the 
Services of Supply and attached to the Air 
Forces for duty; it became clear at any 
rate that the Air Forces were firmly at- 
tached to the units. 

The women were assigned at once, a 
few as clerical help in the wing headquar- 
ters offices, but the majority to staff the 
filter boards and operations centers on 
which they had worked before enlistment. 
Here they received telephone calls from 
civilian spotters as to aircraft sighted, 
plotted the information on the boards, and 
traced the path of every aircraft to cross 
the area, for the benefit of liaison officers 
from the various services who identified 



them or sent up interceptors. Some filter 
boards had as many as fifteen or twenty 
positions, each filled by a woman wear- 
ing headphones and enduring endless 
boredom while waiting for the scarce 
telephone calls. Company commanders 
argued ceaselessly to keep the women as- 
sured of the importance of the work, since 
an unfilled position meant an uncovered 
area of several square miles into which an 
enemy plane might penetrate before de- 
tection. 

The Air Forces soon reported that the 
boards and centers showed a marked in- 
crease in efficiency when freed from reli- 
ance upon the uncertain attendance of 
part-time volunteers. It also appeared that 
the use of Waacs might be more efficient 
than the use of soldiers in duties of such a 
monotonous, sedentary nature. Therefore, 
the Air Forces announced that Waacs 
would be requested to staff literally hun- 
dreds more Aircraft Warning Service sta- 
tions to be established on both coasts and 
eventually inland. Other units were re- 
quested for regular air bases, and a new 
type of company, the WAAC Headquar- 
ters Company, AAF, was devised to fit the 
need. After less than three months' ex- 
perience with the employment of Waacs, 
the Air Forces in November approached 
WAAC Headquarters with a discussion of 
the possibility of obtaining 540,000 more 
and of giving them full Army status. 16 

In spite of their efficiency, the units en- 
countered a series of difficulties which em- 



10 Unless otherwise specified, statements in this sec- 
tion are from interviews with former Staff Directors, 
First and Third Service Commands, who had many of 
the units and who were charged with correcting the 
conditions described, which had occurred before their 
arrival. 

16 Memo, CofS for Gen Stratemeyer, 27 Nov 42. 
WDGSA 291.9. 



80 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 




phasized the need for regional directors to 
get to the field. Problems began when the 
Air Forces found themselves unable to re- 
cruit sufficient local women to fill the en- 
listed vacancies, although officers had 
been easily obtainable. To fill out the 
units, WAAC Headquarters was obliged 
to divert to the Aircraft Warning Service 
many women who had been recruited 
elsewhere for general service, although 
such women were seldom very happy 
about loss of the expected work on a mili- 
tary post. Since these nonlocal recruits 
could not live at home, government quar- 
ters had to be hastily provided. No sooner 
was this action under way than it was 
found that Army Regulations forbade any 



member of a unit to live at home if govern- 
ment quarters were provided. Many local 
women with husbands and young children 
had been enlisted on the promise of being 
able to live at home; the only solution in 
such cases was to offer immediate honor- 
able discharge, which a number of newly 
trained women accepted. 17 Enlistment 
regulations were amended to prevent the 
acceptance of any more women with de- 
pendent children. 

Since many of these centers were lo- 
cated in the poorer areas of large cities, the 



17 Ltr, WAAC Opns Co, Wilmington, N. C, to 
Wilmington Air Def Region, 19 Dec 42, and Inds. 
SPWA 620. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



81 



leased hotels sometimes proved to be, in 
the best phrasing of the matter, third-rate. 
Women living in such quarters were not 
only frequently insulted and accosted, but 
were at times endangered by drunken in- 
vaders who pounded on hotel doors or 
crawled up fire escapes and into windows. 
At several stations the surrounding slum 
areas were so dangerous that women were 
advised not to leave their quarters except 
in groups. The effect of such housing upon 
the women themselves was not serious, 
since they proved far from helpless to meet 
their own problems. One commander 
later recalled with pleasure, "When a 
man climbed the fire escape at the 

hotel, he was bopped by a Waac at 

the top." 

The effect upon civilian opinion was a 
different matter; combined with the ap- 
pearance of the women's clothing, it 
appeared sufficient to bring the whole 
WAAC recruiting program to a halt in the 
cities concerned. Director Hobby even- 
tually besought the Engineers to avoid 
acquiring WAAC housing previously used 
for "questionable purposes." 1S In a few 
cities, hotel accommodations were excel- 
lent. In Philadelphia, one of the best hotels 
was secured for WAAC housing, but was 
lost at once to the WAVES, since the Navy 
was able to pay more per enlisted person. 19 

At all stations proper food for the 
women was frequently lacking, since 
members had been expected to eat at 
home and units contained no mess person- 
nel. On moving to government quarters, 
women were therefore given the Army 
ration allowance of about $1.25 a day — a 
sum that might have been adequate in 
some localities, but was found by those 
stationed in large cities to be scarcely 
enough to purchase one nutritious meal in 
city restaurants. 20 



The impact of enlisted men's opinion 
was another problem that had not been 
fully anticipated. One company com- 
mander reported: 

My women came of good local families, 
and as civilian volunteers had all been re- 
spectfully treated . . . now every man 
assumed that their uniform gave him the 
right to insult them. They were actually 
afraid to ride up in the elevators with the 
enlisted men because of the language they 
heard. ... I went to the commanding offi- 
cer but he didn't do anything; I heard that 
the men's actions were only reflections of his 
private remarks to his staff.'- 1 

Also, because of the Air Forces' inability 
to recruit women to staff the stations com- 
pletely, it was necessary temporarily to 
retain part of the volunteer civilian 
workers. Many of these, although for 
various reasons not desiring to enlist, 
wished to take part in some form of patri- 
otic activity, and were not pleased at the 
prospect of being eventually ousted by 
Waacs. Prominent women in several com- 
munities caused Congressional pressure to 
be placed upon the Air Forces to with- 
draw the Waacs. Where working groups 
were mixed, it quickly became clear that 
Waacs were in no position to compete with 
"free" labor which could quit at any time. 
Waacs were almost invariably given the 

IS Memo, WAAC Hq for Reqmts Div ASF, 18 Jul 
43. SPWA 600.12 (1942). 

"'Passages on AWS, except as otherwise docu- 
mented, are based on: (1) The WAC Program in the 
Army Air Forces, by Lt Col Betty Bandel, hereafter 
cited as AAF WAC Hist. (Sce |Bibltographical IMoteJ ) 
(2) Intervs with WAAC Stf Dirs, 1st and 3d SvCs, and 
with company officers of Jacksonville, Philadelphia, 
Charleston, and Norfolk. 

20 Ltr, Stf Dir 1st SvC to Lt Betty Bandel, 2 Dec 42. 
SPWA 319.2 WAAC Stl'Mtg, WAAC Planning files. 

21 Intervs with Maj Caroline Essex, formerly of 
Norfolk unit, Capt Caroline Varn and Maj Madge 
Williams, formerly of Jacksonville company, and Maj 
Mary Anderson, formerly in Charleston and Phila- 
delphia. 



82 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



graveyard shift, or the least desirable 
hours, while supervisory positions usually 
went to civilians and the least interesting 
work to the Waacs. A few civilian women 
were as insulting in their remarks as had 
been the enlisted men. 

Under the circumstances, it was con- 
sidered remarkable that few applications 
for discharge were received. The women 
remained in generally high spirits, al- 
though expressing considerable indigna- 
tion against a vague WAAC Headquar- 
ters, which they regarded as all-powerful, 
because of the absence of published regu- 
lations, regional directors, necessary sup- 
plies, and attention to other obvious needs. 

Appeals for Publication of Command Channels 

The same months of September and 
October had seen a final struggle waged 
in WAAC Headquarters to get WAAC 
command channels published and WAAC 
regional directors sent out. In the months 
since the passage of the WAAC bill in 
May, the Services of Supply had repeat- 
edly refused to take any such action. Its 
reasons for this stand were never to be 
made entirely clear. Only what staff mem- 
bers called "mysterious silence" had met 
their repeated attempts, throughout the 
summer, to clarify the power and respon- 
sibilities of WAAC Headquarters. 

The Director's appeals had begun in 
July, even before the first Waacs had 
reached Des Moines. At this time she first 
began to be apprehensive about the forth- 
coming winter clothing shortage, as a 
result of the action of Requirements Divi- 
sion, Services of Supply, in refusing to ap- 
prove signing of contracts for winter cloth- 
ing. Although General Marshall himself 
had personally approved every item on 
the list, the Services of Supply took issue 



with some of his decisions. Appeals from 
both the Director and The Quartermaster 
General failed to get approval of contracts 
until winter was at hand and the Septem- 
ber supply scandal unavoidable. 

The Director believed this problem to 
be only one facet of the larger issue: the 
need for publication of some directive on 
the powers of her office and its relation to 
other Services of Supply staff sections. A 
parallel problem that she cited was the 
action of The Surgeon General in calling 
a meeting of civilian doctors, at which the 
WAAC was not represented, which for- 
mulated and came close to announcing to 
the public a plan for issuance of prophy^ 
lactics and contraceptives to the women to 
be enlisted. This plan was suppressed only 
when Mrs. Hobby went directly to the 
Deputy Chief of Staff, General McNarney. 

In August, after a series of such inci- 
dents, the Director appealed in writing to 
General Marshall to clarify her responsi- 
bility in relation to Services of Supply 
offices, alleging that the current lack of 
co-ordination was resulting in "serious 
jeopardy of the military and civilian ac- 
ceptance of the whole idea of the Corps." 22 
She recommended that: 

(a) all papers dealing directly and specifi- 
cally with WAAC matters be routed through 
the Director WAAC for comment or concur- 
rence. 

(b) . . . clarification [be made] as to final 
authority for decision in cases of non-concur- 
rence. . . . 

(c) no meeting of civilian agencies or indi- 
viduals be called . . . without prior ap- 
proval of the Director. 23 

General Marshall did not receive the 
appeal addressed to him. The Services of 

" Memo, Dir WAAC for CofS, 4 Aug 42. Copy 
(partial) in SCO files, SPMC 322.5-1 (Wash, D.C.)F; 
Copy in Adm Serv ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

23 Ibid. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



83 



Supply returned it to Director Hobby in 
August with the statement that there 
would be no change in "established prac- 
tice." 24 

The same reception was given to the 
Director's request that the Services of 
Supply approve publication of the WAAG 
command system with its authorization 
for regional directors. The necessary cir- 
cular was prepared by WAAC Headquar- 
ters and forwarded for approval in mid- 
summer, but no publication resulted. It 
was rumored that the Services of Supply 
was not in accord with either the circular 
or the WAAC Regulations on which it was 
based, although previously these had been 
approved by General Marshall. In Au- 
gust, without notice to WAAC Headquar- 
ters, the Services of Supply published a 
directive that contradicted these regula- 
tions. In a section of its new Organization 
Manual, it gave the commanding generals 
of service commands the authority, vested 
in the Director by WAAC Regulations, to 
transfer and assign WAAC personnel; this 
action could be taken without reference to 
WAAC Headquarters. The Manual also, 
without advance notice, removed the 
training center at Des Moines from under 
the Director's command and placed it 
under the Seventh Service Command. 

This publication thoroughly puzzled 
the Director's staff, since by removing 
command from the Director it contra- 
dicted, but did not rescind, Circular 169 
and WAAC Regulations. It came as a sur- 
prise to the Air Forces and Signal Corps, 
who liked SOS control even less than the 
system of command by WAAC regional 
directors. The Director's staff appealed to 
General Grunert for clarification, but was 
informed only that the Manual meant 
what it said. 25 

Director Hobby therefore requested her 



Army staff officers to explain the situation 
to her and to formulate some plan of op- 
eration that would comply with all direc- 
tives. The senior staff member, Colonel 
William Pearson, had just been removed 
from the office after a dispute with The 
Adjutant General over the custody of 
WAAC files, which were also removed 
from the office, over its protests. 26 The new 
Executive, Colonel Tasker, stated that he 
was unable to devise any military method 
of reconciling the directives, since it ap- 
peared impossible for the Director to exer- 
cise those remaining portions of her com- 
mand responsibility concerning discipline, 
discharge, and promotion while lacking 
that portion concerning assignment and 
transfer. Even to locate the women, if they 
were transferred by other agencies, it 
would be necessary to go through some 
four echelons to reach post headquarters 
companies and possibly seven to reach 
certain Air Forces units. The time factor 
rendered this system impossible, since evi- 
dently more than a month would elapse 
before any action could be secured 
through so many echelons. On the other 
hand, unless the cases were sent to WAAC 
Headquarters, it would never be possible 
to expand the Tentative Regulations, as 
had been intended, on the basis of experi- 
ence. 

The staff therefore informed the Direc- 



'-"> 1st Ind , SGO for CofAdm Serv, 8 Aug 42, to 
Memo cited ! n. 22.| SPMCR. 

35 (1) SOS Orgn Manual, Aug 42, sec 405.04. (2) 
Memo, Dir WAAG for CofAdm Serv, 4 Aug 42. 
SPWA 300.3 (4-29-42) sec 2. (3) Memo, CofAdm 
Serv for Dir WAAC, 1 1 Aug 42. SPWA 300 (8-8-42). 

26 (1) Office Memo, 6 Aug 42. SPWA 300. (2) 
AGO Memo 111, 7 Aug 42. SPWA 314.7 (6-2-4 1)(1) 
sec 3. This states that all file papers on the WAAC. 
regardless of where prepared, will be sent to file in 
AGO Civilian Components Branch. Col Pearson had 
maintained that the WAAC needed its files in the 
same building for planning purposes. 



84 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



tor that in coping with current emergencies 
it was still "violating all the above" by 
writing and telephoning directly to Colo- 
nel Faith. Staff members warned her that 
she was now in the position, feared since 
passage of the Rogers bill, of bearing legal 
responsibility without authority; the 
Services of Supply had evidently removed 
not only policy but command powers, 
while leaving her legally designated as the 
women's commander. 27 

New Expansion Plans 

The WAAC staffs alarm over the Di- 
rector's position was increased by the fact 
that, meanwhile, a series of directives from 
the General Staff had made the June ex- 
pansion plans obsolete and posed problems 
of administration that would have been 
difficult to solve under even the clearest 
command system, 

The first such directive called for over- 
seas shipment. The Director had intended 
that no units be sent overseas for "the 
experimental period of a year," since sup- 
ply and supervision would be proportion- 
ately more difficult overseas. 28 However, 
in August word was received from Europe 
that General Marshall, on tour, had 
promised an allotment of Waacs to Gen- 
eral Eisenhower. The Joint Chiefs of Staff 
informed the Director briefly that "Eisen- 
hower's headquarters is badly in need of 
clerical help and Waacs seem to be the 
best answer." 29 The Director at once dis- 
patched Major Macy to England to dis- 
cover how WAAC supply and its vague 
administration could be stretched so far. 
As the first few classes graduated at Des 
Moines, the training center was charged 
with organizing and equipping two over- 
seas units, and much of the scarce winter 
equipment so far received was held for 



their use in case the momentarily ex- 
pected shipment call should come from 
the General Staff. The Director was in- 
formed that dozens more overseas units 
would be wanted shortly. 30 

The problem of expansion overseas 
paled into insignificance when, on 15 Sep- 
tember 1942, G-3 Division dropped a 
veritable blockbuster on WAAC Head- 
quarters — a directive that immediate steps 
be taken to plan for an expansion of the 
Corps to a strength of well over a million 
members. 

As the Chief of Staff had predicted a 
year earlier, the nation was now in the 
grip of a manpower shortage. Industry 
had already turned to womanpower as a 
supplement; in one aircraft company the 
employment of women had increased by 
2,575 percent. 01 Not to be left behind in 
the developing competition, G-3 Division 
stated: 

1. Tentative mobilization plans projected 
through 1946 indicate a necessity for a ma- 
terially increased use of the Women's Army 
Auxiliary Corps in the overall structure of the 
Army. 

2. The widespread character of current 
and projected operations is well known. One 
major and very serious effect of such a scheme 
of operations has been to force the design of 
an Army in which the ratio of personnel in 
service and overhead installations to person- 
nel in combat units is undesirably high. As 
the Army further increases in size, it is evi- 
dent that unless this ratio is reduced, and 
unless sources other than the able-bodied 
manpower of this nation are used to provide 

37 (1) Min cited fTTTOPl . (2) Memo, PRO for Dir 
WAAC, 9 Sep 42. SPWA 300.4. 

2 « Memo, Tasker for Dir WAAC, 21 May 42. 
Tasker Staybacks. 

Memo, Secy JCS for Somervell, 3 Aug 42. Dir 
Adm Serv ASF. Sp Coll, DRB AGO. 

■■"> Memo, CofOpns SOS for TAG, 20 Sep 42. 
SPOPU 320.2 (9-20-42). 

31 "The Margin is Womanpower," Fortune, Jan- 
uary 1943. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



85 



a major portion of this service and overhead, 
we face a situation where we have mobilized 
a tremendous force which is strong every- 
where except on the battlefield. 

3. It is requested that your Division [G-l ] 
cause a study to be initiated to determine all 
the occupations in the Army which can satis- 
factorily be filled by members of the WAAC. 
Such study should contemplate their use at 
home and abroad in practically every field 
except the actual handling of weapons. They 
should constitute the bulk of personnel as- 
signed to overhead installations in the Zone 
of the Interior. Extensive use in defense com- 
mand installations appears logical. 

4. As a basis for an approach to the solu- 
tion of the problem, it is recommended that 
an expansion of the Corps from its present 
authorized strength to an ultimate strength 
of 1,500,000 be contemplated. 32 

The earlier June plans for an increase 
of 500 percent — to an ultimate 63,000 
members — were thus obliterated after only 
three months of existence. Complete new 
plans were obviously required: new 
schools, new recruiting quotas, new cloth- 
ing procurement, and new legislation. 
Director Hobby was convinced that the 
new quota could not be filled by voluntary 
recruiting but would require the drafting 
of women. 33 Such plans, and such an ex- 
pansion in size, were clearly impossible 
without immediate agreement upon, and 
publication of, a system of command for 
the WAAC. 

General Marshall's Intervention 

Simultaneously with the arrival of G-3's 
directive, General Marshall sent his staff 
officers to confer with the Director's staff, 
at which time they learned of the contra- 
dictory existing instructions on Corps ad- 
ministration and command. 34 On 17 
September the Chief of Staff intervened to 
direct General Somervell to restore the 
Director's command powers. Even had 



the WAAC been legally subject to military 
law, General Marshall was of the opinion 
that h would be dangerous to assume that 
no new Army-wide policies would have to 
be set. He stated: 

I find that the WAAC has been fitted into 
the SOS somewhat on the same basis as the 
Military Police. For a new organization, par- 
ticularly one composed entirely of women, I 
think that this is not an effective arrange- 
ment. While units assigned to various locali- 
ties and theaters must come under the local 
commanders, yet it would seem to be impor- 
tant for some time to maintain a rather direct 
relationship between the Director and these 
highly special organizations. There is too 
much that is entirely new and that demands 
a woman's point of view to decentralize to the 
extent that we do with Infantry, Cavalry, 
and Field Artillery, as well as other special 
units. 30 

For his guidance in publishing necessary 
instructions, General Marshall sent Gen- 
eral Somervell a copy of the regulations 
that had been prepared earlier by the 
Director's staff. 

At the same time, General Marshall 
informed General Somervell that WAAC 
Headquarters must be furnished with 
more assistance to carry the new planning 
load. He noted that Mrs. Hobby looked 
"rather overworked" and that, while her 
assistants "are doing a good job," she 
needed a high-ranking officer with ex- 
perience and prestige in the War Depart - 

:!2 (1) Memo, G-3 for G-l, 15 Sep 42. WDGGT 
291.9 WAAC (9-15-42). (2) Memo, Opns Div SOS 
for Dir Mil Pers SOS, 19 Sep 43. SPAOG 201, copy 
in AG 320.2 (6- 1 5-42) ( 1 +) Const and Activ of 
WAAC Units, with Incl G-3 Memo, G-l paper, and 
request for study. 

•'" WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, particularly Min, 
Mtg, 14 Jan 43. 

31 (1) Memo, Taskerfor Dir WAAC, 31 Aug 42, 
sub: Results of Confs with Col Faith, 29 and 30 Aug 
42. SPWA 334.8 Conf (8-2 1-42). (2) Memo, Tasker 
for Young, 17 Sep 42. SPWA 300. 

<> Memo, CofS for Somervell, 1 7 Sep 42. WDCSA 
291.9 (9-17-42). 



86 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ment "to get things going on the most 
efficient basis and to relieve her of many 
time-consuming details and also to obviate 
many delays." Such an officer, he stated, 
"might make an important contribution 
as a sort of military secretary during the 
formative period of the Corps." 36 

This second portion of the Chief of 
Staffs instructions was the first on which 
General Somervell took action. Directing 
that "immediate action be initiated to 
assist and aid the WAAC in the execution 
of its duties," 37 he sent inspectors from his 
Control Division to repeat the inspection 
they had just made in August, at which 
time little had been reported out of place 
except the furniture. 38 Control Division 
now noted that "the WAAC occupies an 
unusual and peculiar position ... it is 
both within and without the military 
framework." However, they vetoed the 
Chief of Staffs suggestion for a "military 
secretary" and proposed instead an execu- 
tive, who would be in the chain of com- 
mand instead of an adviser, for which "a 
Regular U.S. Army Officer is essential . . . 
to guide the Director in Army methods." 3H 

General Marshall had called for an offi- 
cer "conversant with War Department 
procedure," but such an officer was not 
found available and the Director was as- 
signed a retired Regular Army officer, Col. 
Thomas B. Catron, who had not served 
in the War Department in twelve years. 
Colonel Catron had, however, thirty- 
seven years' experience in the Regular 
Army, and was personally known to Gen- 
eral Grunert's deputy, Brig. Gen. Madison 
Pearson, WAAC Headquarters' immedi- 
ate superior. 40 The Services of Supply also 
regrouped the six major divisions of the 
Director's office into two— Personnel and 
Operations-Training. Both divisions were 
to be headed by newly assigned Regular 



Army officers since, Control Division 
noted, "The War Department and the 
Services of Supply must rely on the data 
furnished . . . so it should be reliable." 41 
WAAC Headquarters' Supply Division 
was abolished, since "it is apparent that 
the functions of a supply division are not 
of sufficient importance to justify a sepa- 
rate division." 42 

General Somervell approved the reor- 
ganization pattern, saying, "This is splen- 
did. . . . With General Grunert person- 
ally assisting, I think you are on the right 
track for future progress." 43 Colonel 
Catron replaced Colonel Tasker as Execu- 
tive; Colonel Tasker and other senior 
members of the former staff remained for 
a few more months, while new Regular 
Army officers gradually arrived. The 
junior Army members had already begun 
to depart as new contingents of WAAC 
officers reported to take over routine 
duties. 44 

Under Colonel Catron's direction, the 
office adopted the motto: "Simplify, 
Qualify, Consolidate." Colonel Catron 
also directed that the staff begin to use 
/''././. 

37 Rpt, Col Betters, Cond Div SOS. 7 Oct 42. 
SPWA 020 (1943). 

:iS Memo, Chief, Contl Div SOS for CofAdm Serv, 
1 Aug 42. SPWA 317.7 (6-2-42) sec 3. The Director's 
Office then had 14 Army officers and 50 civilians. 
There were four divisions, corresponding to G-l. 
G-3, G-4, and OPD of a general staff. 

30 Rpt cited n. 37. 

43 Personnel Abstracts, VVAC file, OCMH. 

" There were also three small branches: Office 
Management, Control and Inspection, and Technical 
Information. 

42 Rpt cited n. 37. 

13 Memo, CG ASF for Dir WAAC, 7 Oct 42. File 
SPICY, in Folder, WAC Recruiting, ASF, Sp Coll, 
DRB AGO. 

44 (1) Intervs with members of the group. (2) Min, 
24 Aug, 17 and 21 Sep 42. WAAC Daily Journal. (3) 
Memo, Macy for Dir WAAC, 24 Sep 42. SPWA 
352.0. (4) Mimeographed Tng Program, 11 Sep 42. 
SPWA 352.0 (8-24-42). 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



87 



both sides of the stationery, and that they 
write or wire the training center instead of 
telephoning. 45 The training center was 
restored, by General Somervell's direction, 
to WAAC command, under which it had 
in fact operated all summer. 

Some four weeks elapsed before the pub- 
lication of the system of WAAC command 
prescribed by General Marshall. Mean- 
while, Director Hobby was not informed 
that the Chief of Staff had already decided 
the issue, and her staff continued in some 
confusion, attempting to devise another 
system which would be acceptable to Gen- 
eral Somervell, for the command of the 
WAAC units, now already in the field. 
In one paper the Director offered to use a 
British system of command, in which the 
Director retained assignment authority 
only over company officers and cadre, 
thus allowing Army commanders to trans- 
fer other women, yet insuring that transfer 
would not be made to stations where bar- 
racks and cadre were not located. When 
this suggestion received no response, she 
proposed an alternate command system 
wherein she would gradually give up all 
command power to commanding generals 
of service commands, provided that they 
refrained from exercising this power until 
civilian auxiliary rules could be published 
on the basis of cases sent directly to WAAC 
Headquarters. 48 This proposal also re- 
ceived no reply. The Director begged 
General Grunert's office for some pub- 
lished system, stating, "If the War Depart- 
ment and the public are to hold the Direc- 
tor of the WAAC responsible for the proper 
administration of the Corps, the proper 
authority to accompany this responsibility 
is a natural and automatic require- 
ment." 47 

By the second week in October, there 
were already a dozen Aircraft Warning 



Service companies in the field and some 
two hundred officers in recruiting stations 
and Army specialist schools. On 1 1 Octo- 
ber General McNarney, General Mar- 
shall's Deputy, sent a second message to 
General Somervell: 

On a recent trip to the West Coast, includ- 
ing a stop at Des Moines, I gained the distinct 
impression that there exists no basic plan or 
schedule for the use of the WAAC. At two 
stations, Randolph Field and Fort Huachuca, 
they had been informed that they would 
receive WAAC companies, but they seemed 
very hazy as to the trades, skills, qualifica- 
tions to be expected, where they should and 
could be used, together with a distinct lack 
of any indication that the use of Waacs should 
result in a nearly corresponding decrease in 
the number of men assigned to an activity. 
Station commanders scheduled to receive 
Waacs should be furnished, without delay, 
sufficient information to permit effective uti- 
lization, and directives for a corresponding 
decrease in men assigned. . . - 4S 

It was not until 13 October 1942 that 
the Services of Supply published an ex- 
planatory statement to the field — Circular 
344, the second important War Depart- 
ment publication in WAAC history. The 
circular at last made WAAC command 
channels clear to the field, although the 
channels themselves were complicated. 



^ Min, Stf Gonf, 27 Oct 42. 

J<i (l) Memo, Civ Components Br AGO for AG 
WAAC, 18 Jul 42, and reply, 1 Aug 42, office notes 
atchd. WA 300.3 (4-29-42) sec 2. (2) Memo, Tasker 
for Dir WAAC, 5 Oct 42. SPWA 314.7 (6-2-41)(l) 
sec 3. (3) WAAC Cirs 4 (10 Jul 42), 13 (14 Oct 42), 
and 16 (11 Dec 42). Gases are cited in Memo, Dir 
WAAC for CofAdm Serv. 3 Oct 42. SPWA 300 
(10-3-42). 

47 (1) Memo cited ln. 8(2)1 (2) Memo, WAAC Hq 
for CofAdm Serv, 29 Sep 42. SPWA 300.3 (4-29-42) 
sec 2. (3) Memo cited n. 46(3). (4) These were all re- 
called on 5 October 1942, when the Director first 
learned of General Marshall's action, by Memo, Dir 
WAAC for Gontl DLv SOS, 5 Oct 42, sub: Revision of 
WD Cir 169. SPWA 300.3 (4-29-42). 

"* Memo cited rn""5~l 



88 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Three sets of channels were required in 
order to maintain the Corps' legal auxil- 
iary status while allowing it to work for, 
and be supplied by, the Army. 

Job performance was rated through the 
same normal channels of command as for 
soldiers and civilians at a station, and so 
offered no problems or causes of complaint 
from any station — Air Forces, Signal 
Corps, service command, or other. Supply 
and routine post administration were also the 
responsibility of the post commander, just 
as they were for men. However, above post 
level only service command stations could 
follow normal channels of supply, since 
WAAC clothing was stocked only at a few 
service command depots. Non-service 
command stations had to follow unfamil- 
iar channels of requisitioning through the 
service command to get WAAC supplies. 
Finally, in personnel matters, the short 
WAAC command channel would operate, 
from the WAAC company commander to 
the WAAC regional director to Director 
Hobby. Personnel channels were specifi- 
cally denned as including the disputed 
right of assignment and transfer, as well as 
promotion, discipline, and discharge, plus 
"all policies involving the welfare of mem- 
bers of the WAAC which, by virtue of the 
fact that they are women, differ from those 
prescribed for men." 

Assignment of Regional Directors 

Upon the moment of publication of Cir- 
cular 344, nine WAAC regional directors 
departed for their posts in a race to remedy 
the Corps' field situation. These nine 
women had been chosen in early October 
and brought into WAAC Headquarters 
for assignment to the nine service com- 
mands as soon as the Services of Supply 
published authority for them. Of necessity 



the choice was made in ignorance of mili- 
tary aptitude although, as Director Hobby 
later noted, "Every one [service com- 
mander] said, 'You must put your very 
best officer on this.' " 4S The women 
chosen were all required to be over 35 
years of age. They included two former 
business administration supervisors, a col- 
lege teacher and a dean of women, a sales 
director, a government executive, a law- 
yer, and a housewife. In spite of the haste, 
the selection proved generally good, and 
included four women who were later to 
play a leading part in world-wide WAC 
administration — Third Officers Katherine 
R. Goodwin of the First Service Command, 
Jessie P. Rice of the Third, Westray B. 
Boyce of the Fourth, and Mary-Agnes 
Brown of the Eighth. 50 

The ten-day indoctrination of these 
women in WAAC Headquarters under- 
standably proved something of a farce. 
Detailed auxiliary regulations and guides 
to WAAC needs had not yet been worked 
out, and could not be until more Waacs 
reached the field and until the regional di- 
rectors themselves discovered their needs. 
Members of the group related that Colo- 
nel Catron told them, "No one can tell 
you what to do, because there's never been 
a job like this. No one knows what you're 
going to encounter when you get there." 51 

Circular 344 gave the job a difficult 
dual status: when handling matters per- 
taining to the "Personnel Channel" the re- 
gional director was responsible only to Di- 
rector Hobby and signed herself "Direc- 
tor's Representative" (later, "WAAC 
Service Command Director"); but in all 



""•Speech at WAAC Stf Dirs Conf, 15-17 Jun 43. 
SPWA 337 (6-1-43). 

50 WDBPR Press Release, 28 Oct 42. 

51 Related to author by Lt. Col. Jessie P. Rice and 
other members of the group. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



89 



other matters such as supply she was only 
a staff adviser to the commanding general 
of the service command and could take ac- 
tion only through military channels, sign- 
ing herself "Chief, WAAC Branch." 52 
The latter position was roughly compara- 
ble to that of service command special 
staff officers such as the surgeon, finance 
officer, or quartermaster. However, these 
officers were chiefly colonels and were 
expected to be experts in one field only, 
while the Waac was a second lieutenant 
and was supposed to be an adviser in all 
fields — health, supply, housing, personnel, 
discipline, finance, public relations, and 
all others. If there were no WAAC Regu- 
lations to cover a situation, she must de- 
termine whether Army Regulations could 
legally apply, or whether it would be 
necessary to recommend new WAAC 
Regulations. In addition to her work in 
headquarters, she must visit every service 
command station where Waacs were as- 
signed or expected, as a traveling trouble 
shooter to resolve difficulties and promote 
efficiency. She was also responsible for the 
command and well-being of Waacs at air- 
fields, ports, Signal Corps stations, and all 
other exempted activities within the serv- 
ice command, most of which were already 
bristling at the thought of control through 
alien channels. 

Because of the alarming responsibilities 
of the positions, some thought was given 
to the possibility of promoting all service 
command directors at once to the rank 
that was allotted to the position: assistant 
director or lieutenant colonel. After much 
debate, Director Hobby decided to post- 
pone promotions until each woman's ef- 
ficiency on the job was proven. However, 
Acting Director Helen H. Woods some 
days later secured permission to send an 
explanatory letter to each commanding 



general, noting: "We were conscious of the 
fact that we were sending out second lieu- 
tenants to the field to break ground, and 
to confer with major generals concerning 
their relative command powers." 53 

Only one major policy was fully im- 
pressed upon the regional directors before 
their departure: they must as far as possi- 
ble act as if the Corps were a part of the 
Army; they must demonstrate that women 
needed no extra frills and comforts such 
as Army commanders might feel a gallant 
desire to provide. 58 

Field Action 

The initial reception accorded these 
women upon their arrival at service com- 
mands varied from "all the co-operation 
a person could ask or need" down through 
various degrees of lesser warmth to "stand- 
offish." s5 One fact became abundantly 
clear the moment each staff officer re- 
ported, and that was that most of the serv- 
ice commands — in fact, eight of the nine — 
had no intention whatever of complying 
with War Department Circular 344 inso- 
far as it pertained to a WAAC command 
channel. Said one director, "When I ar- 
rived at this station and was presented to 
the Commanding General, he informed 
me, with some emphasis, that he was in 
charge of the Service Command and did 
not propose to tolerate any dual channels; 
that my loyalty was to him and to no one 
else." Others told much the same story. 



M AGO Memo S635, 4 Dec 45. SPWA 314.7 
(6-2-41) sec 3. 

5:1 Interv with Mrs. Woods. 9 Oct 48. 

01 Undated Draft of Dir WAAC speech to SvC mtg, 
Dec 42, in personal papers of Col Rice. 

7 ' : > Ltrs from SvC Dir, 30 Nov-9 Dec 42. SPWA 
319.2 (12-2-42) WAAC Stf Mtg, WAAC Planning 
files. 



90 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 




LT. COL. HELEN H. WOODS (then 
Third Officer). 



The four service command directors on 
the Atlantic seaboard plunged at once into 
the work of aiding the Aircraft Warning 
Service units to obtain supplies, warm uni- 
forms, three meals a day, and safer quar- 
ters, as well as of providing a legal means 
for the personnel actions that began to be 
necessary. Particular difficulty was ex- 
perienced in persuading non-service com- 
mand stations to permit such efforts. Some 
measure of success was eventually ob- 
tained. For example, after repeated tele- 
phone calls and correspondence had failed 
to convince the Norfolk Air Defense Wing, 
Third Officer Jessie P. Rice of the Third 
Service Command paid a personal visit 
and reported a "long and pleasant" con- 
versation with the commanding officer, 
during which he alleged that he had never 
seen War Department Circular 344, but 



agreed to abide by it and WAAC Regula- 
tions in the future. 56 

In stations at which units had not yet 
arrived, service command directors set 
themselves to prevent the hardships and 
poor publicity that unpreparedness had 
brought to the Aircraft Warning Service 
units. One surviving memorandum on 
"How to Visit the Field" offered strenuous 
advice : 

1. Visit the commanding officer and 
explain the WAAC's status. 

2. Visit the quartermaster and check 
with him methods of requisitioning WAAC 
uniforms and other supplies and equip- 
ment peculiar to females; where stocked, 
and so on. 

3. Visit the post engineer and verify 
safety and proper construction of WAAC 
barracks, including plumbing, fire escapes, 
shades, and distance from men's barracks. 

4. Visit the post surgeon and arrange 
for separate sick call and separate wards 
for women, different medical supplies, and 
the like. 

5. Visit the finance officer and explain 
how the Auxiliary is paid. 

6. Visit the post exchange officer and 
suggest toilet articles, sanitary supplies 
and other items to be stocked for women 
purchasers. 

7. Visit the athletic and recreation offi- 
cer and arrange for recreation suitable for 
women, and for admission to post theater, 
service club, and other activities. 

8. Visit the provost marshal and discuss 
the Auxiliary disciplinary system and its 
wide difference from the Army system, the 
power of military police over Waacs, and 
related matters. 



56 (1) Ltr, Stf Dir 3d SvC to 3d O Betty Bandel, 1 
Dec 42. SPWA 319.12. (2) Ltr, Stf Dir 3d SvC to Dir 
WAAC, 1 Jan 43, sub: Rpt on Trip to Norfolk, Va., 
27 Dec 42. Same file. 



BEGINNINGS OF FIELD DUTIES 



91 



9. Visit the post chaplain and discuss 
the special problems of a woman's adjust- 
ment to the Army. 

10. Visit the post adjutant and advise 
that WAAC officers be allowed to use the 
officers' mess and club, and discuss other 
matters of administration. 

11. Visit any other staff officers who 
might have special problems caused by the 
arrival of female personnel, such as the 
public relations officer, or those who might 
employ Waacs, such as the signal officer. 07 

Director Overseas 

A few days before the regional directors 
went out, Director Hobby was obliged to 
entrust their further indoctrination and 
guidance to her staff, having received or- 
ders to accompany Mrs. Eleanor Roose- 
velt on an observation tour of the British 
women's services. Third Officer Helen 
Woods was left as Acting Director. On 19 
October the Director and her aide, Third 
Officer Bandel, left for the British Isles, 
not to return until 1 1 November. 58 

At this time it appeared that the Corps 
was in fair condition to meet the strain of 



the oncoming expansion. As a result of 
General McNarney's intervention to ex- 
pedite WAAC supply, every Waac at Fort 
Des Moines at last had a winter uniform 
and an overcoat, and supplies had been 
forwarded to those women who had left 
the training center without uniforms. As 
for the Second WAAC Training Center at 
Daytona Beach, a full conference of Serv- 
ices of Supply agencies assured Director 
Hobby before her departure that all neces- 
sary supplies and uniforms would reach it 
before the 1 December opening date. Also 
encouraging was the office's move to the 
newly completed Pentagon, where co-or- 
dination with other Army offices was 
greatly simplified. SH 

The expansion program that had been 
mastered was, however, merely that which 
had originated in June. Still to be reck- 
oned with was G-3's September plan for 
1,500,000 Waacs. 

57 Table V-2, Vol. Gen Information, WAAC Hist 
files. 

,w Memo cited l n. 31 

• !> (1) Min, Stf Conf, 2 7 Oct 42. (2) Weekly Rpt, 
WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 1-7 Nov 42. SPWA 
3 19. 12. (3) Admin Memo 56, Hq SOS, 14 Oct 42. 
SPWA 310.2. 



CHAPTER V 



November 1942-January 1943: 
Plans for a Million Waacs 



While Director Hobby was overseas, the 
necessary steps were taken by the Services 
of Supply to carry out the September ex- 
pansion plan. To verify G-3's estimate of 
a need for 1,500,000 Waacs, The Adju- 
tant General's Office was asked to make a 
list of all the Army jobs suitable for 
women. A committee of classification ex- 
perts at once began the project, the most 
comprehensive study ever made of the 
outer limits to which replacement of men 
in the United States Army could theoreti- 
cally be pushed. 

The Adjutant General's Estimates 

After pondering over each of the 628 
military occupations listed by the Army, 
The Adjutant General's committee came 
to the conclusion that 406 were suitable 
for women and only 222 unsuitable. A job 
was deemed unsuitable if it involved com- 
bat, if it required considerable physical 
strength, or if the working conditions or 
environment were improper for women. 
Jobs requiring long training time were 
also eliminated. Typical of the jobs ruled 
unsuitable were brake inspector and rail- 
way operator (too heavy and requiring too 
much training time), switchboard installer 
(too heavy), laborer (too heavy), intelli- 
gence specialties (improper environment), 



and so on. All supervisory jobs were auto- 
matically declared unsuitable for women. 
The committee likewise, after some dis- 
agreement, ruled that for psychological 
reasons women should not be used in such 
jobs as classification specialist, personnel 
consultant, or psychological assistant, 
since in these jobs they might be called 
upon to classify recruits for combat duty, 
and it was felt that men would resent be- 
ing classified as suitable for combat by in- 
dividuals who were themselves noncom- 
batants. The committee nevertheless ad- 
mitted that, in an acute manpower 
shortage, women could actually be used 
in many of the 222 jobs thus ruled 
unsuitable. 

The Adjutant General, using these lists, 
determined that in 1943 there would be 
3,972,498 men in Army jobs appropriate 
for women — over half of the Army's 
strength at that date. In the interests of 
caution, this number was reduced to allow 
for the fact that some jobs, although of a 
suitable type, might be rendered unsuit- 
able by their location or for some other 
reason. For instance, it would not be eco- 
nomical to maintain women at small sta- 
tions where only a few could be used; it 
would not be wise to replace all of the sup- 
ply clerks at any station, since work too 
heavy for women might occasionally oc- 



PLANS FOR A MILLION VVAACS 



93 



cur; women could not conveniently do the 
office work in men's units. With such de- 
ductions, it was decided that women could 
fill 450,000 of the Army's 665,256 ad- 
ministrative and clerical jobs; 100,000 of 
the 834,600 motor transport jobs; 25,000 
of the 121,000 radio operators' positions; 
30,000 of 96,755 supply jobs. The total of 
women who could be used immediately 
was 750,000, and by the end of 1943 it was 
estimated that at least 1,323,400 could be 
used. Thus it was discovered that G-3 
Division had, if anything, been conserva- 
tive in estimating that 1,500,000 Waacs 
could be used by 1946. 1 

Estimates Based on Field Requisitions 

Simultaneously with its request for The 
Adjutant General's theoretical estimates, 
the Services of Supply conducted a field 
survey to provide a practical check on the 
numbers usable by the Army. On 22 Oc- 
tober, a few days after Director Hobby's 
departure, the Services of Supply in- 
formed its subordinate commands that 
further use of Waacs was contemplated, 
and asked for recommendations as to 
which jobs under their jurisdiction could 
be filled by WAAC personnel. - 

Requisitions prompted by this letter 
were soon pouring into WAAC Headquar- 
ters, increasing those already arriving as a 
result of the earlier June expansion plans. 
They were listed in order of receipt, ex- 
cept for urgent cases, and forwarded for 
final approval in turn to the Chief of Ad- 
ministrative Services, the Chief of Opera- 
tions, and G-3 Division of the War De- 
partment. 

In order to determine which requests 
merited final approval, it was necessary to 
devise a number of new policies concern- 
ing the types of work and places of em- 



ployment which would be authorized for 
Waacs. The number and variety of the 
requests went far beyond the four simple 
types of jobs originally authorized. The 
Air Forces requested Waacs for some 
thirty-one different technical and me- 
chanical duties; the Signal Corps, Trans- 
portation Corps, Corps of Engineers, 
Ordnance Department, Chemical War- 
fare Service, and other agencies listed 
dozens of new types of work, many of 
which could not be filled by women except 
after Army technical training. There were 
also requests for new types of companies: 
Machine Records Units, Finance Depart- 
ment Companies, Base Post Offices, Mess 
Companies, and others for which no 
WAAC Table of Organization as yet 
existed. There were many requests for 
Waacs to replace civilians: as clerks in 
post exchanges, as laundresses, and in 
other non-Civil Service work. Several 
commands wanted mobile units for com- 
bat theaters, and the Signal Corps wanted 
these units mixed, with men and women 
in the same company. 3 

As a guide for determining which of 
these requests to honor, a most important 
policy had been recommended by Direc- 
tor Hobby before her departure: that 
Waacs not be allowed to replace civilians 
and that they be considered only for the 
406 Army jobs included in The Adjutant 



1 (1) Memo, Classif & Rcpl Br AGO for Col 
Catron, 3 I Oct 42; (2) Rpt, Classif & Repl Br AGO 
for WAAC Hqs, 25 Nov 42. SPWA 201.6 (10-2-42) 
( 1 ) sees 1,2. 

2 Memo, TAG for Chiefs of Servs SOS, 22 Oct 42. 
SPX 320.2 (10-17-42) PR-W-SPAAE. Also AGO 
Memo W635-2-42, 22 Oct 42. 

(1) Min of Stf Cord's, Aug-Nov 42. Folder, Stf 
Confs, Hobby files. (2) Memo, MPD SOS for G-l, 4 
Nov 42. SPGAM 320.2 WAAC (9-15-42). (3) Ltr, FA 
Sch to Dir WAAC, 25 Sep 42, and reply. AGF 320,2 
WAAC, Binder 1 , DRB AGO. 



94 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



General's study. The Director stated that 
she had understood from the beginning 
that Waacs were to replace only enlisted 
men, except in the Aircraft Warning Serv- 
ice. General Grunert disagreed, recom- 
mending that stations be allowed to use 
Waacs in civilian jobs that they could not 
get civilians to accept. 4 G-l Division up- 
held the Director, and the policy was 
established that "First priority will be given 
to requests which result in WAAC personnel 
relieving enlisted men of the Army for combat 
duty." 5 This was a policy of enormous im- 
portance to the Corps' entire future em- 
ployment. 

It was also decided that first priority 
was to be given to fixed installations in the 
United States and second priority to fixed 
installations in foreign theaters of opera- 
tions. Mobile units were not, however, 
ruled out of consideration at some future 
date when all other needs were filled. 6 

No requests for Waacs to perform new 
or unusual military duties were disap- 
proved, but it was obvious that actual 
provision of Waacs for such work would 
depend upon the establishment of new 
training schools and of types of units other 
than the standard Table of Organization 
company. Research was authorized to find 
some more flexible means of allotment 
which would permit Finance, Hospital, 
Mess, and other units. 

The number of Waacs that could be 
used was greatly limited by a decision not 
to employ them in Washington, D. C, 
where as much as one third of the Navy 
women were eventually to be employed. 
This prohibition had originally applied to 
the Services of Supply only, having been 
announced by General Somervell at a staff 
meeting as an off-the-record policy for his 
Chiefs of Services, one of whom acciden- 
tally recorded it: 



Our policy can be only the policy that he 
has announced to us. That policy he particu- 
larly does not want committed to writing, 
because the minute that anybody gets ahold 
of it and puts it in the paper, there will be a 
mess. This is the policy ... he does not 
want any of them here, except in the Office 
of the Headquarters of the WAAC, and cer- 
tain ones in G-2, whom for some reason they 
prevailed upon him to have. Do you get it? 
We don't want anything said about it. 7 

However, a few weeks later, when it 
became clear that the War Department 
and the Air Forces were planning to bring 
Waacs into their headquarters, General 
Somervell recommended the policy in 
writing to the Chief of Staff, "in order that 
field agencies may have full benefit of the 
services of members of the WAAC." This 
policy was approved by the Chief of Staff 
and put into effect, with exceptions to be 
granted only by his own office for impor- 
tant secret work. 8 It was also generally 
agreeable to WAAC Headquarters, since 
assignments to Washington were not pop- 
ular with enlisted women who wished to 
work on a military post. However, the 
policy caused added confusion in current 
planning, since agencies such as the Signal 
Corps, which had attempted to get WAAC 
officers to aid in planning for enlisted 



4 Memo, Dir WAAC for CofAdm Serv, 16 Sep 42, 
and Inds. SPWA 320.2 (9-5-42). 

5 D/F, G- 1 to Dir WAAC through Adm Serv SOS, 
1 Oct 42. AG/WDGAP 212.31 WAAC; 1st Ind, 2 
Oct 42. Adm Serv SOS for Dir WAAC. SPAAE 320 
(9-16-42). 

s Memo cited ! n. 271 

1 Tp Conv, Col H. L. P. King and Brig Gen James 
A. Code, Jr., OCSigO, 25 Sep 42, 11:05 A. M. SigC 
320.2 WAC, 1942-45. 

8 (1) Memo, Somervell for CofS, 4 Oct 42, with ap- 
proval 7 Oct 42. CofS 291.9. Also AGO Memo 
W635-1-42, 12 Oct 42. (2) Memo, Opns WAAC for 
CofAdm Serv, 28 Oct 42. SPWA 320.2 (10-28-42) O, 
in Dir Adm Serv ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. (3) Memo, 
G-l for CG AAF, 9 Dec 42. WDGAP 320.2 WAAC 
(12-9-42), in WDCSA 291.9 WAAC. 



PLANS FOR A MILLION WAACS 



95 



women, were obliged to relinquish them 
when informed that, "by order of General 
Somervell, no WAAC officers will be 
placed on duty in the space occupied by 
the Office of the Chief Signal Officer." 9 

Even with the various limitations, the 
results of the field survey generally upheld 
The Adjutant General's estimates. It was 
difficult to make an exact calculation of 
the constantly shifting requests, but the 
total, which had been 63,000 in midsum- 
mer and about 82,000 at the beginning of 
October, jumped to 386,267 toward the 
end of November and to 526,423 in De- 
cember. These figures included only "ac- 
tual requests . . . based on present 
tentative plans as to how and where Waacs 
can be used." 10 Thus, if more than 500,000 
women could be assigned immediately, 
before overseas theaters and many other 
commands were heard from, it was clear 
that the G-3 estimate of 1,500,000 by 
1946 had not been in excess of probable 
field requirements. 

Proposals To Draft Women 

Considerable change in planners' think- 
ing resulted from the somewhat amazing 
revelation that, in a modern Army, possi- 
bly half of all "soldiers' " jobs were appro- 
priate for women. With little natural limit 
thus existing upon the use of woman- 
power, major decisions were clearly re- 
quired as to the Army's future policy: the 
number of women that it would attempt 
to employ in World War II, the rate at 
which it would take these, and the means 
by which it would attempt to get them. 

The first and easiest solution to occur to 
most planners was that of drafting women. 
Although Director Hobby was not avail- 
able for consultation, the Services of Sup- 
ply on 4 November 1942 recommended 



to the War Department that, in further- 
ance of G-3's plans, legislation be sought 
to draft some 500,000 women yearly 
through regular induction facilities. Ac- 
cording to SOS estimates, there were 
25,605,179 women of ages 20 through 44 
in the United States, of whom about 
13,000,000 should be available for the war 
effort. Even if the WAAC required the 
present maximum Adjutant General's 
estimate of 1,300,000, this would consti- 
tute only 10 percent of the pool, leaving 
90 percent for industry, farm, and other 
armed services. In recommending that the 
Army draft women, the Services of Supply 
noted: 

The nation is obligated to see that women 
will be placed to best advantage, not only 
from the standpoint of economical use, but to 
avoid any disastrous aftermath due to mis- 
placement in the war effort, or by the em- 
ployment of women who have definite obli- 
gation in other fields. ... It is to the 
advantage of the nation that the best use be 
made of this pool of labor, and it certainly 
should not be frittered away in useless com- 
petition between competing agencies in our 
country. 11 

Unfortunately for the speed of WAAC 
planning, this proposal was so serious as to 
require extended War Department con- 
sideration and high-level negotiation with 
other agencies. It was realized that any 
such proposal from the Army would pro- 
voke considerable public outcry and Con- 
gressional opposition, and therefore could 



R&W Sheet, Col King to Aux C Sec through 
Deputy Chief and Exec Off, 24 Nov 42. SigC 320.2 
WAC, 1942-45. 

10 ( 1) Memo, Dir WAAC for CofAdm Serv, 28 Sep 
42. SPWA 291.9 (9-28-42) E, in SPWA 314.7 (6-2- 
41) sec 3. (2) Outline for speech "Role of the WAAC 
in the Service Command," December 1942; given to 
author by Lt Col Jess Rice. 

11 Stf Study, Dir Mil Pers SOS for G-l, 4 Nov 42. 
SPG AM 320.2 WAAC (9-15-42). 



96 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



be publicly made, if at all, only with the 
full co-ordination of the sponsoring agen- 
cies. For this reason, as the winter of 1942 
continued, no War Department reply as to 
the possibility of drafting women was 
received by either General Somervell or 
WAAC Headquarters. 

The Weakness of the Auxiliary System 

A second possibility which presented 
itself to planners was that of seeking legis- 
lation to give Waacs full military status. If 
a draft was later to be sought, such status 
was essential; even if it was not sought, 
there was already considerable evidence 
that no greatly expanded employment of 
womanpower was possible on an Auxiliary 
status. 

In particular, it became clear during 
the autumn that most plans for overseas 
service must be canceled if the Auxiliary 
status continued. This was a serious blow, 
for the whole idea of the Corps had origi- 
nally been thought of by the War Depart- 
ment as a means of preventing the confu- 
sion of civilian overseas service that 
occurred in World War I. During her visit 
to England, Director Hobby received from 
Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower a request 
for immediate shipment of the two over- 
seas companies then in training and for 
quick, organization of a number of others. 
She also discovered — at that time top 
secret information — that the invasion of 
North Africa was imminent and that it 
was General Eisenhower's intent to take 
Waacs with him. 

Director Hobby returned to the United 
States on 1 1 November, much impressed 
by the need for Waacs in General Eisen- 
hower's headquarters, where she had 
observed a colonel typing a letter by the 
one-finger method. However, after con- 



ferring with her staff about current Comp- 
troller General and Judge Advocate 
General decisions on the WAAC's legal 
status, her enthusiasm abated. It had 
recently been decided that Waacs were not 
eligible for the various benefits that pro- 
tected men overseas — they could not, like 
the men, receive extra overseas pay; they 
were not eligible for government life in- 
surance as men were, and would probably 
invalidate their civilian insurance by 
entering a war area; if sick or wounded 
they would not be entitled to veterans' 
hospitalization; if they were killed their 
parents could not collect the death gra- 
tuity; if captured by the enemy they could 
be treated as the enemy pleased instead of 
being entitled to the rights of prisoners of 
war. Under the circumstances, it appeared 
impossible for the Army to assume the 
responsibility of ordering women overseas; 
nor did the military situation yet require 
it, as the Director pointed out to the Chief 
of Staff: 

One of the primary reasons for the estab- 
lishment of the WAAC was to replace men. 
Until necessity dictates otherwise, conditions 
in the theaters of operation indicate replace- 
ment in the United States. 

The Army classification system should be 
able to find among men the skills needed by 
the Army in the European Theater of Oper- 
ations. Members of the WAAC can thus 
properly replace men found in the United 
States and release them for essential Army 
service overseas. . . , 12 

General Marshall therefore somewhat 
reluctantly postponed any consideration 
of immediate shipment overseas except for 
the two all-volunteer units already trained, 
saying: "They do not enjoy the same priv- 
ileges that members of the Army do who 



12 Memo, Dir WAAC for CofS, 14 Nov 42. SPWA 
320.2 sec 1. 



PLANS FOR A MILLION WAACS 



97 



become a prey to the hazards of ocean 
transport or bombing." 13 

In addition to negating plans for over- 
seas shipment, it appeared possible that 
continued Auxiliary status would cause a 
rift with the Army Air Forces, which had 
been expected to employ more than 500,- 
000 of the projected million-plus Waacs. 
Shortly after the Director's return from 
Europe, representatives of the Air Forces 
informed her that they could not employ 
Waacs on an Auxiliary status and would 
prefer to seek legislation for their own 
corps. General Marshall temporarily 
squelched this effort with a note to the Air 
Forces on 27 November: 

I believe Colonel Moore this morning took 
up with Mrs. Hobby the question of her atti- 
tude toward a separate women's organization 
for the Air Corps. I don't like the tone of this 
at all. I want to be told why they cannot train 
these women, why the present legal auxiliary 
status prevents such training. 1 * 

The attitude of the Signal Corps and other 
employing agencies continued to be very 
similar to that of the AAF. 

It also began to appear that the Army 
would have difficulty in obtaining any 
large corps of women on an Auxiliary 
status in competition with the newly 
organized WAVES, who could offer 
women all military benefits — free mailing, 
government insurance, allotments to de- 
pendents, reinstatement rights to jobs, 
veterans' bonuses, and other advantages, 
none of which the Waacs were entitled to. 

However, the granting of full Army 
status to women still appeared to many 
Army men as a drastic step, particularly in 
view of the fact that only a few units had 
as yet left the training centers. In late No- 
vember it was finally decided to delay 
decision on both draft legislation and on 
Army status for the WAAC, The head of 



the Army's Legislative and Liaison Divi- 
sion, Brig. Gen. Wilton B. Persons, advised 
the General Council to postpone consider- 
ation of further legislation of any sort 
"until the Waacs have taken the field and 
demonstrated their usability." 15 

A few days later, Director Hobby sub- 
mitted a substitute proposal believed to be 
more palatable to Congress: that of merely 
registering women in order to obtain 
accurate knowledge of the manpower 
potential of the nation according to num- 
bers, skills, and other data. This recom- 
mendation was also approved by General 
Somervell and sent to the Chief of Staff on 
the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor. 18 
However, it also was known to have small 
chance of immediate approval. 

Proposals for Expansion on Auxiliary Status 

There remained to planners the least 
desirable of the possible means of Corps 
expansion: to attempt to undertake G-3's 
directed program by voluntary recruiting 
and on an Auxiliary basis. A certain 
amount of action could be taken under 
existing legislation. It was therefore de- 
cided that, as a preliminary measure, the 
full 25,000 authorized by executive order 
should if possible be enrolled by the end of 
December 1942 instead of by the following 
June. Next, the Secretary of War peti- 
tioned the President to change the execu- 
tive limitation from 25,000 to the full 
150,000 authorized by Congress. The 

13 Memo, CofS for G-l, 3 Dec 42. CofS 29L.9 
WAAC. 

11 Memo, "G.C. M." for Gen Stratemeyer, 27 Nov 
42. WDCSA 291.9 (11-27-42). Reference is to Col. 
Aubrey Moore, head of AAF's Allocations and Pro- 
grams Division. 

15 Min, Gen Council, 23 Nov 42. 

16 Memo. Dir WAAC for CG SOS, 26 Nov 42. 
SPWA 324.71 (1 1-26-42) D, and Ind. Folder, WAC 
Recruiting, ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 



98 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



President agreed and on 19 November 
1942 raised the WAAC strength limit to 
150,000. The Secretary of W r ar indicated 
that the 150,000 women would be enrolled 
as fast as training facilities permitted, after 
which further legislation would probably 
be recommended. 17 

Meanwhile, recruiting quotas were 
opened as wide as training capacity would 
permit. From a beginning of 1 ,259 in July 
and 2,019 in August, the number of re- 
ported recruits had increased to 3,536 in 
September. In October and November, as 
Des Moines neared its maximum capacity, 
slightly over 4,000 women a month were 
enrolled. For December, estimated train- 
ing capacity permitted advance quotas of 
approximately 6,000. 18 

In order to determine how fast the rest 
of the 150,000 could be enrolled, the Gen- 
eral Staff called upon WAAC Headquar- 
ters for estimates as to the recruiting and 
training facilities that would be required 
to train 150,000 women by various possi- 
ble dates, as well as greater numbers by 
later dates. The two WAAC training cen- 
ters' combined peak capacity would 
plainly be insufficient to supply such num- 
bers except over a period of years. The 
General Staff's desire was to take as many 
women as possible as rapidly as possible, 
since Army jobs were already waiting and 
since applicants might accept other war 
work if required to wait. Against this 
desire had to be balanced the practical 
question of where to get basic and spe- 
cialist schools, of which the Army cur- 
rently had none to spare. Compilation of 
a list of suitable schools was begun. It was 
also necessary to work out large flow charts 
to govern intake and output of proposed 
training centers and specialist schools, so 
that on a given date each would simulta- 
neously produce exactly the required 



number of basics and specialists to make 
up exactly the number of WAAC com- 
panies departing for the field on that day, 
and for whom exactly the right amounts 
of housing and clothing were ready. Such 
charts had to be worked out for every pos- 
sible total strength that the War Depart- 
ment desired to consider for every possible 
date. 19 

Opinions differed widely as to how 
quickly the WAAC should attempt to 
reach the 150,000 mark. Maj. Gen. Miller 
G. White, the new G-l of the War De- 
partment, recommended to the General 
Staff in November that the Corps reach 
this number by July 1 943 — a deadline that 
would require at least 20,000 recruits a 
month for the intervening months, as well 
as several new training centers. An even 
more optimistic recommendation came 
from the new head of WAAC Headquar- 
ters' Recruiting Section, Capt. Harold A. 
Edlund, who advised a target of 50,000 a 
month, or 750,000 in 1943. Captain Ed- 
lund stated: "It may be that the goal 
outlined will appear to some as outside the 
realm of reason or possibility . . . but the 
reaching of a more modest goal is doubly 
assured if we bend every effort for the 
greater enrollment figure." On the con- 
trary, General Surles, chief of the War 
Department Bureau of Public Relations, 
gave his opinion that not even 150,000 



17 (1) Ltr, SW to Bur oi' Budget, 12 Nov 42. 
WDGAP 320 WAAC (1 1-7-42), in WDCSA 291.9 
WAAC. (2) Exec Order 9274, 19 Nov 42, in WD Bull 
58, 28 Nov 42. 

18 (1) Weekly Rpt. WAAC Ilq to CofAdm Serv, 8- 
16 N ov 42. SP WA 319.12 (1 1-9-42) sec 1. (2) Memo 
cite d n. 10(f)! (3.) Table III, ASF Hist of WAC Trig. 
OCMH. (4) Although not reported fully at the time, 
actual nationwide enrollments as finally credited by 
The Adjutant General were: 1,259, July; 2,019, Au- 
gust; and 3,536, September. 

19 (1) Min, Stf Mtgs, 25 Sep, 6 Oct 42. (2) Flow 
Charts, WAAC Planning files, 1943. 



PLANS FOR A MILLION WAACS 



99 



could be obtained, and added: "We have 
about exhausted that group of women who 
are willing to volunteer to leave their 
homes." 20 This was also Director Hobby's 
opinion; after her return from Europe she 
expressed the opinion that not even 150,000 
women could be recruited by voluntary 
means. 21 

The somewhat unfortunate effect of this 
division of opinion was that, for the re- 
mainder of 1942, the War Department 
was no more communicative upon the 
subject of WAAC 1943 goals than it had 
been upon the questions of legislation. As 
a staff member later observed : 

The Corps was placed in the position of a 
small businessman who overnight was told 
he must increase his business more than eight 
times, and to do it at once even before he 
knew what he was to produce, out of what 
materials, when or how the product was to 
be made, and with practically no organiza- 
tion to assist. 22 

The Winter Months 

While it was realized that major deci- 
sions concerning womanpower could not 
be made easily in these, the darkest months 
of the war, their absence caused continued 
confusion in the new headquarters. At the 
same time, developments in the two train- 
ing centers gave grounds for grave doubt 
as to whether any sort of expansion pro- 
gram could be supported. 

In the second week of November, just 
before Director Hobby's return from Eng- 
land, urgent telegrams were received from 
the commandant at Fort Des Moines, 
pointing out that clothing shipments had 
again failed just as recruits were increased. 
The improvement caused by General Mc- 
Narney's intervention in October had 
lasted scarcely a month. 

Immediate investigation by WAAC 



Headquarters drew an alarming reply 
from The Quartermaster General: cloth- 
ing promised to Fort Des Moines could 
not be delivered as scheduled. Also, no 
clothing could be sent to Daytona Beach 
by its opening date, as previously agreed 
by the Services of Supply. The Quarter- 
master General stated that his previous 
commitments had been contingent upon 
immediate letting of contracts and, for 
unexplained reasons, Requirements Divi- 
sion, Services of Supply, had again held up 
approval of the contracts for more than six 
weeks. 23 

On 1 1 November Director Hobby re- 
turned from England to find a recurrence 
of the September crisis at Des Moines: 
hundreds of recruits without winter cloth- 
ing, and sickness rates again high. Colonel 
Hoag reported the entire supply of cloth- 
ing now exhausted except for a little sum- 
mer-weight underwear. The civilian 
clothing in which recruits arrived was far 
from adequate protection for four weeks of 
winter training in snow-covered Fort Des 
Moines. Most women had been instructed 
to bring only one outfit, and this, particu- 
larly in the case of women from the 
southern and southwestern states, fre- 
quently included nothing warmer than a 
dress, a light topcoat, and open-toed shoes. 

-" ( 1 ) Memo, CofS SOS for CofAdm Serv, 26 Nov 
42. SPEX, in SPAA 320.2 WAAC, CofAdm Serv file, 
Sp Coll DRB AGO. (2) Surles statement in Min, Gen 
Council, 23 Nov 42. (3) Memo, Capt Edlund, Chief, 
WAAC Rctg Sec, for Dir WAAC, 22 Dec 42. Folder, 
Memos Prior to 7 Jan 43 in WAAC Planning, WAAC 
Planning files. 

21 Min of Speech, 3 1 Mar 43. SPWA 334.8 Conf, 
1943. 

Miss B. Eugenia Lies, Civilian Consultant to Dir 
WAAC, The Overall WAAC Picture, (first draft), 28 
Mar 43. Folder, Planning Serv Notes, WAAC Plan- 
ning files, 1943 in SPWA 291.9. 

Weekly Rpts, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 1-7 
Nov and 8-16 Nov 42. SPWA 319.12 (10-19-42) and 
(1 1-9-42) sec 1. 



100 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Units were now being shipped to the Air- 
craft Warning Service in the same civilian 
clothing in which the women had reported 
for training. It was known that trainees 
had written of these conditions to friends 
and relatives. 24 

Director Hobby's attempts at remedial 
action were somewhat delayed by the fact 
that, upon her return, she was immedi- 
ately ordered to Fort Leavenworth, 
Kansas, to lecture to the Command and 
General Staff School on the proper admin- 
istration of Waacs. She had brought back 
from England much valuable material on 
this subject, none of which had any effect 
on the situation. The fact was that the 
American WAAC was helplessly repeating 
every one of the British WAAC's mistakes, 
not because the WAAC did not know 
them and how to avoid them, but because 
their occurrence hinged on outside factors 
over which it had no control. 25 Neverthe- 
less, three days after her return from Eng- 
land, the Director called in the two 
training center commandants, Colonels 
Faith and Hoag, for a meeting with Colo- 
nel Catron, Colonel Tasker, and herself. 
Here, in a stormy session, Colonel Faith 
alleged that the Services of Supply were 
neglecting the Waacs because they were 
not military personnel. He had particular 
reference to his experiences in trying to 
open the Second Training Center; for 
example: 

Colonel Faith: I feel it is the function of this 
department [WAAC Headquarters] to get 
the War Department to understand that the 
Waacs are soldiers. It looks like I am going to 
have to open a training center at Daytona 
without anything. ... I am not going to lie 
down because I do not have clothing, but I 
do sense the feeling that the War Department 
believes they have an Army, and some 
Waacs. . . . 

Colonel Catron: No, the War Department 
feels that the Waacs ought to have what they 
need, but the clothing is not available. . . . 



I do not believe there is a tendency to say 
there is an Army and some Waacs; not in the 
Services of Supply. . . . 

Lt. Colonel Tasker: I think there was that 
condition. . . . 

[Colonel Faith goes on to describe how The 
Services of Supply refused him other equip- 
ment normally furnished to Army schools.] 

Director Hobby: . . . Let me straighten out 
the position of this headquarters. You are 
given a job to do and a time schedule to do it 
on, and when your equipment does not come 
through I want to know about it. I will say 
another thing: you will find a lot of people 
with a bureaucratic frame of mind that would 
kill anything new unless you fought for it. It 
is myjob to fight for it. afi 

A number of events therefore occurred 
on 21 November. On that day the Direc- 
tor stopped all further shipments of uni- 
formless units to the Aircraft Warning 
Service. She simultaneously directed re- 
cruiters to warn recruits to bring enough 
warm civilian clothing to last for several 
months. She also requested and received 
from her Army staff a report on the action 
they had taken to date. This report showed 
not only that all Services of Supply staff 
divisions had concurred before expansion 
plans had been put into effect, but also 
that the Quartermaster General's Office 
had been informed by telephone in June 
and again in September as soon as WAAC 
Headquarters had itself learned of the 
plans. With this report in her office, and 
also General Madison Pearson, she there- 
fore telephoned General Somervell's Chief 
of Staff, Maj. Gen. Wilhelm D. Styer. 27 



24 (1) Ibid., and Rpt of 15-21 Nov 42. (2) Account 
in the possession of Capt. Charlotte Dyer, made avail- 
able to the author, 3 1 January 1946. 

25 Folder of British materials in 1942 WAAC files. 

26 Min, Tng Cen Comdts Conf, 14 Nov 42. Folder, 
Stf Confs, Hobby files. 

27 (1) Ltr, WAAC Hq to all SvCs, 21 Nov 42. 
SPWA421 (1 1-19-42). Also Rpt. 15-21 Nov 42. cited 
n. 24(1). (2) Memo, Tasker for Dir WAAC, 21 Nov 
42. WA421 (11-20-42). 



PLANS FOR A MILLION WAACS 



101 



What was said was not recorded, but 
observers reported that it was sufficient to 
bring General Styer down the hall to 
WAAC Headquarters. Staff members were 
under the impression that Director Hobby 
mentioned that her own resignation 
would be necessary if the Services of Sup- 
ply did not intend to give the WAAC the 
equipment for survival in the coming 
winter. In any event, General Styer was 
found to be not in agreement with the 
previous management of the WAAC sup- 
ply program by his subordinates, which he 
attempted to correct by personal tele- 
phone calls on the spot. Emergency pro- 
curement of any available kind of cold- 
weather garments was authorized. 28 

The situation at Daytona Beach also 
was found to be critical. Before Director 
Hobby's return, a meeting had been held 
in General Grunert's office to consider 
whether to cancel the scheduled opening 
of the second training center, since it could 
not be supplied with uniforms. Lieutenant 
Woods personally made the decision that 
the Army's stated needs must be met, in 
spite of the inconveniences to trainees. The 
Second WAAC Training Center therefore 
opened on 1 December 1942 as scheduled. 
It was virtually without equipment; shoes 
had been sent, and 600 utility coats — 
scarcely enough for one week's trainees. 29 

Colonel Faith forwarded requests for 
improvement in the scattered housing and 
other facilities at Daytona Beach. A British 
report brought back by Director Hobby 
noted that to house women in scattered 
billets usually damaged health, adminis- 
tration, and the "amenities," and that "for 
young recruits undergoing basic training 
it is generally very unsuitable." 30 It was 
obvious that Waacs in Daytona Beach 
must either do without recreation or attend 
civilian night spots of doubtful respect- 
ability. Since a tent camp was being built 



to house some 6,000 of the trainees, Direc- 
tor Hobby asked in early December that 
it include the recreational facilities nor- 
mally provided for an Army camp of 
6,000 men — one theater, one service club, 
one library, and one post exchange. How- 
ever, the Chief of Engineers objected on 
the grounds that critical building material 
would have been required, and the request 
was rejected by Requirements Division, 
Services of Supply. Colonel Faith also be- 
lieved the commercial laundry facilities 
inadequate, but his requests for military 
supplements were refused by the Services 
of Supply. 31 

Colonel Faith's most serious concern, 
however, was not the lack of material 
facilities so much as the difficulty in get- 
ting competent Army cadre to augment 
the staff, which remained inadequate even 
after the original Army cadre was divided 
and the newly graduated Waacs assigned 
to all possible duties. 3 ' 2 The greatest need 
was for highly competent key Army offi- 

2S (1) Interv with Col Woods, 9 Oct 48. (2) Rpt, 15- 
21 Nov 42, cite d n. 24f HI (3) Memo, ACofS, Opns 
Div SOS, for QMG, 27 Nov 42. SPDDQ 420 Cloth- 
ing, in SPWA 421 (11-27-42) 1942. (4) 1st Ind. 
Reqmts Div SOS to QMG, 3 Dec 42. SPRMD 421 
(1 1-26-42), in WA 400.34. 

29 (1) Memo, OQMG for CG SOS, 10 Nov 42, with 
1st Ind, 13 Nov 42. SPQXA 420 WAAC, in SPWA 
400.34 (3-2-42) sec 1. (2) Ltr, WAAC Hq to Ft Des 
Moines, 19 Nov 42; and Ltr, WAAC Hq to 2d Tng 
Cen, 20 Nov 42. SPWA 421. 

, ' 10 Conditions in the Three Women's Services. 

31 (1) Memo, WAAC Hq for Chief, Reqmts Div 
SOS, 17 Dec 42; refused by 1st Ind, 6 Jan 43. WA 
600.1 (1942). (2) Memo, WAAC Hq for OQMG, 2 
Nov 42, and Inds. WA 486.3. 

32 Waacs were made chiefs of sections (Motor 
Transport, Officers Candidate, Basic, and Adminis- 
trative) on 6 February 1 943 at Fort Des Moines; dates 
for other centers not preserved. On 23 April 1943 at 
Fort Des Moines, Waacs became commanders of 
training regiments, chiefs of training sections, mess 
officers, public relations officers, and the like. On 24 
April 1943 Waacs were designated Chief of Plans and 
Training. Assistant Commandant, and Chief Public 
Relations Officer at Fort Des Moines. MS Hist of 1st 
WAAC Tng Cen. 



102 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



cers. The Director's requests for certain 
individuals by name had been refused, 
and General Grunert informed her that 
the WAAC would be assigned only officers 
unfit for duty with male troops. At the 
November commandants' meeting, Colo- 
nel Faith and Colonel Catron came to 
open dispute over this decision, with Colo- 
nel Faith stating; "I absolutely refuse any 
reduction in the quality of material. We 
cannot go any lower. We cannot allow any 
more culls. ... I don't want a one of 
them. I cannot make it any stronger." To 
this Colonel Catron replied, "You will find 
lots of good material in the over troop age 
group. I think you are going to have to 
take it." Director Hobby added, "My own 
limited service in the War Department has 
taught me that it is difficult to get quality 
for the WAAC. It seems to be against the 
theory." 33 

The seriousness of the objections to the 
Daytona site was not to become fully evi- 
dent for several months, but it was suffi- 
ciently clear to Director Hobby, when she 
saw the center for the first time in Decem- 
ber, to cause her to demand that the 
already scheduled Third WAAC Training 
Center be located on an Army post. Ac- 
cordingly, she requested assignment of 
Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, just outside of 
Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fort Oglethorpe 
was in a central location, which would 
make it convenient to draw trainees from 
most of the United States; it was also in a 
temperate climate. Nonconcurrences on 
its use for Waacs were offered by the Pro- 
vost Marshal General, who maintained an 
internment camp there, and by the Com- 
manding General, Army Ground Forces, 
one of whose mechanized regiments would 
also be forced to move. These objections 
were overridden by the Chief of Staff him- 
self and Fort Oglethorpe was designated 



the Third WAAC Training Center. Col. 
Hobart Brown was selected to command 
it, and its activation date was set for 1 
January 1943, with recruits to report in 
February. 34 

In order to co-ordinate the work of the 
three training centers and the others that 
might be expected, it was decided to 
group them into a WAAC Training Com- 
mand, which would form an intermediate 
echelon between the training centers and 
WAAC Headquarters. 35 Colonel Faith 
was chosen to command the new agency, 
and was promoted to the rank of briga- 
dier general — an action that created a 
somewhat peculiar military situation, 
since the head of the WAAC Training 
Command was himself immediately under 
the command of Director Hobby, who 
wore colonel's eagles. Nevertheless, the 
rank of brigadier general was obviously 
quite modest for the commander of three 
large posts. General Grunert accordingly 
proposed that action be taken to change 
the Director's relative rank to that of 
brigadier general, and the Director imme- 
diately asked that equal rank be given 
Colonel Catron. General Somervell 
shelved both proposals and directed that 
no action be taken, pending decision on 
his proposal to draft women, which would 
necessarily place the WAAC in the Army. 
If the Corps should be given Army status, 
its Director and regional directors would 
become staff advisers instead of com- 
manders, and an upward adjustment of 



33 Min, Stf Gonf, 14 Nov 42. Folder, Stf Confs, 
Hobby files. 

34 (1) Memo, G-3 for CofS, 15 Dec 42. WDGCT 
291.2 WAAC (12-8-42), in OCS 291.9 WAAC. (2) 
Weekly Rpts, WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 7-12 Dec 
and 14-19 Dec 42. SPWA 319.12 (11-9-42) sec 1. 

35 Request for establishment approved 17 Nov 42 
by CofAdm Serv, according to notes for speech, "Role 
of WAAC in the SvC." 



PLANS FOR A MILLION WAACS 



103 




BRIG. GEN. DON C. FAITH shortly 
after his promotion and assignment to com- 
mand the WAAC Training Command. 

the allotted grades of female leaders as the 
Corps expanded would not be obligatory. 3fi 

Shipment of the First Post Headquarters 
Companies 

For some time disgruntled station com- 
manders had complained about the re- 
peated postponement of arrival dates 
originally given them for WAAC post 
headquarters companies. Many, ignorant 
of the fact that all available Waacs had 
gone to staff the Daytona Beach training 
center, began to repeat the rumor that the 
Corps was a failure and would never ma- 
terialize in the field. One WAAC service 
command director noted, "I spent most of 
my time apologizing to my General for the 
peculiar behavior of WAAC Head- 
quarters." 37 

The necessity for staffing the Third 



WAAC Training Center with cadre again 
set back the shipment schedule of post 
headquarters companies. By Christmas of 
1942 only two Army stations had received 
their promised shipment — Fort Sam 
Houston, Texas, and Fort Huachuca, 
Arizona. 38 These units went out well 
equipped with winter uniforms at the ex- 
pense of those remaining in training cen- 
ters, in compliance with the Director's ban 
on shipment in civilian clothing. They 
were also more fortunate than the pioneer 
Aircraft Warning Service companies, in 
that careful preparations had been made 
for them by the WAAC service command 
directors. 

The women as a whole were consumed 
with eagerness to reach genuine Army sta- 
tions, and both morale and discipline were 
good. Mrs. Woods noted later, "In spite of 
the difficulties topside, the spirit of the 
women was remarkable, especially the 
fervor with which they accepted all sorts 
of unexplained difficulties. There sprang 
up among them an unexcelled esprit de 
corps" 39 

The arrival of the first Waacs at Fort 
Sam Houston on 17 December was de- 
scribed by a WAAC spectator, who wrote: 

The consensus of opinion at Fort Sam 
Houston was that it would be unfair and un- 
wise to parade a company upon the day of its 
arrival by troop train. In fact the remark was 
made: "They will not make a good impres- 
sion while disheveled." You would have been 



;,fi (1) Memo, AGofS Pcrs Div SOS for CofAdm 
Serv, 23 Jan 43, SPAP 322.5 WAAC (1-18-43), ref to 
Memo. CofAdm Serv for Gen Dallon, 13 Jan 43; (2) 
Memo. Dir WAAC for MPD SOS, 14 Jan 43, and 
Inds, SPWA 210. All in ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

37 Intervs with Stf Dirs, 1st and 3d SvCs. 

• 1fi Date of shipment given as 2 Dec 42 for Ft Hua- 
chuca units, in MS Hist of 1st WAAC Tng Cen ; 
WDBPR Press Release, 19 Dec 43, gives 15 Dec as 
date of shipment and 1 7 Dec as date of arrival. 

3 " J Interv with Mrs. Woods, 9 Oct 48. 



104 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



proud, however, if you had been standing 
there when they got off the train — their noses 
were powdered, their shoes were shined, they 
showed that they were well-trained and well- 
disciplined. Before the last ones had got off 
the train, the cannon was fired for retreat. 
Like one woman they came to attention and 
saluted. . . . The salutes so impressed the 
photographers that they stopped taking pic- 
tures and faced the flag. ... I am sorry 
that no pictures were taken at that time. 4 " 

The other unit, composed of Negro en- 
rolled women with Negro officers, was 
likewise well received at Fort Huachuca, 
and housed in new barracks with hair- 
dressing facilities, recreation room, and 
athletic area. Upon arrival the women 
found their bunks already made up and 
their first meal prepared." 

Shipment of post headquarters com- 
panies to the seven other service com- 
mands was postponed indefinitely to 
permit the opening of new training cen- 
ters, but the defrauded commands set up 
such protest that certain exceptions had 
to be made. Just before Christmas Direc- 
tor Hobby called a meeting at New Or- 
leans of WAAC directors from the service 
commands, to explain the situation and to 
point out that delay at this stage would re- 
sult in tremendously greater supply when 
all training centers came into full produc- 
tion. Nevertheless, all appealed so ear- 
nestly for at least one unit per command 
that Director Hobby promised to send it, 
as token to the service commands that 
Waacs really did exist. This was done, and 
during the last of December 1942 com- 
panies were placed on orders for shipment 
to stations in the remaining seven service 
commands. Very little could yet be told of 
what their assignments or job performance 
would be, although WAAC Headquarters 
eagerly awaited such news. 42 

In December also two experimental 



antiaircraft units reached the field, their 
"secret" station being actually Boiling 
Field, within sight of the Pentagon. The 
Antiaircraft Artillery, as directed by Gen- 
eral Marshall, began the task of determin- 
ing which of its duties could be performed 
by women and with what degree of 
success." 13 

First Overseas Shipment 

Considerably more complications at- 
tended efforts to get the first two units 
overseas in December. These units had 
been ready for shipment since September, 
and were by this date trained to a hair- 
trigger state of tension while waiting for a 
shipment priority from England, which 
had not arrived. To ease the crowding at 
Des Moines, they were shipped to Day- 
tona Beach, as soon as its cadre arrived, 
for another period of training. 44 Their 
morale was scarcely improved by the con- 
stant turnover of officers. Since no one yet 
knew what qualities a women leader 
needed, there was a process of trial and 
error by which several officers were suc- 
cessively relieved from duty because of in- 



10 Ltr, Lt Charlee Kelly, Rctg Off, to Capt Mary- 
Agnes Brown, WAAC Stf Dir 8th SvC, as quoted in 
Ltr, Capt Brown to Dir WAAC, 9 Jan 43. SPWA 
319.1. 

" (1) Ft Huachuca file, SPWA 291.21. For difficul- 
ties exp erienced by the first Negro Wac units, see Ch. 
Kxxl below. (2) WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 30 
Jan 43. 

4 - (1) Notes of Dir's speech to CGs of SvCs. New 
Orleans, La., 17-18 Dec 42. SPWA 334.8 Conf (11- 
18-42). (2) Weekly Rpts, WAAC Hq for CofAdm 
Serv. 14-19 Dec 42 and 27 Dec 42-1 Jan 43. SPWA 
319.12 (1942). 

AG Ltr, WD 320.2 WAAC (12-23-42) PR W 
WPOPU, 24 Dec 42, sub: Activation of 150th and 
151st WAAC Tech Cos, and 1st Ind from MDW, 17 
Mav 43. AG 320.2 WAAC (5-10-43). 

« Ltr, WAAC Hq to Comdt 2d WAAC Tng Cen, 
3 1 Oct 42, sub: 75th and 76th Cos, and two Inds. 
SPWA 320.2 sec 1. 



ON THE JOB AT FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS. Motor pool attendant, above; 
dental assistant in the post dental school, below. 




106 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



sufficient experience, lack of outstanding 
ability, or domineering traits and a habit 
of "treating adult women like high school 
freshmen." 45 

The prolonged delay could not be ex- 
plained to the women, since even their 
destination, like all troop movements, was 
classified; in general, they attributed it to 
vacillation and bungling in WAAC Head- 
quarters. Actually, shipment waited upon 
authority from the European theater, 
which had requested activation of the 
units but had not yet furnished shipment 
priority. At the same time, Operations 
Division of the General Staff informed 
WAAC Headquarters that shipment with- 
out a priority was impossible because of 
the shipping jams resulting from the inva- 
sion of North Africa in November. 45 

Disbandment of the units was being 
considered when, a few days after the in- 
vasion, General Eisenhower cabled for a 
company of WAAC typists and telephone 
operators for North Africa, and provided 
a high shipment priority. However, 
although the units earmarked for London 
contained the necessary specialists, Direc- 
tor Hobby felt unable to assume the re- 
sponsibility of ordering them into the more 
active North African area without the pro- 
tection of military status. 

The danger was graphically demon- 
strated a few days later when, in answer 
to a cabled request from the European 
theater setting high air priority, the first 
five of the Waacs were flown to England — 
five officers qualified to act as executive 
secretaries. These officers were imme- 
diately placed by the theater on a ship for 
North Africa; General Eisenhower had in 
fact cabled for them on the fifth day of in- 
vasion. Nearing the coast, the ship carry- 
ing the Waacs was sunk by enemy action, 
with loss of all equipment. The five Waacs 



were fortunate enough to be rescued by a 
lifeboat and a British destroyer, but the 
scare was sufficient to emphasize the War 
Department's untenable position had the 
issue of hospitalization, capture, or death 
gratuity arisen publicly. 

At this, Director Hobby herself flew to 
Daytona Beach and told the assembled 
women that their shipment must be either 
canceled or diverted to an unnamed but 
dangerous combat theater to which she 
would not order them against their wishes. 
She noted later that she reminded them of 
their lack of military status and its protec- 
tion and "that I wanted them to appre- 
ciate the full significance of what I was 
saying." Then, in a speech which specta- 
tors called reminiscent of another Texan's 
at the Alamo, she called for volunteers to 
step forward to fill the unit. There were 
300 women in the room, of whom 298 vol- 
unteered upon the instant, At this, Direc- 
tor Hobby was unable to continue speak- 
ing and hastily sought privacy in a broom 
closet. 47 

Half of this number were chosen, proc- 
essed, and ordered to the staging area in 
December. The remainder were held un- 
til the European theater had three times 
more postponed its shipping priority, 
when they were disbanded and sent to 
other duties. 48 



45 Documents dated 23 Oct 42 and 27 Nov 42. 
SPWA 320.2 sec 1. 

4,i (1) D/F, OPD to G-l, 24 Nov 42. OPD 322.999 
WAAC (11-14-42); (2) Cbls, London to AGWAR, 
4416, 3 Nov 42, London to WAR, 5057, 19 Nov 42, 
and London to AGWAR, 5445, 4 Dec 42. All in 
SPWA 320.2 sees 1 and 4a. 

41 The two nonvolunteers had invalid parents. (1) 
Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 78th Cong, 1st sess, Hear- 
ings on S495, 3 Feb 43. (2) Interv with Col Bandel. 

18 (1) Hist of WAAC-WAC in ETO, 1942-44, by 
Hist Sec. ETO. (Hereafter cited as ETO WAC Hist.) 
OCMH. (2) Ltr, WAAC Hq to Col Abbott, Hq ETO. 
27 Jan 43. SPWA 320.2 sec 2. 




FIRST AMERICAN WAACS EN ROUTE TO NORTH AFRICA. {Photograph 
was taken in London, 30 November 1942.) 



110 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



End of 1942 

Thus, by the end of 1942, the WAAC 
could boast two training centers open and 
a third being readied, twenty-seven Air- 
craft Warning Service units, nine service 
command companies shipped or ready to 
ship, two secret units with the Antiaircraft 
Artillery, and one on its way overseas. In 
late December Director Hobby reminded 
her staff that, in spite of the uncertainties 
and hardships of rapid expansion, "Our 
six months' achievement is really some- 
thing to boast about." 19 Whereas she had 
originally promised the War Department 
12,000 Waacs by July of 1943, the Corps 
had achieved that strength by December 
of 1942, with 12,767 enrolled. The year 
had witnessed a complete revolution in 
military thinking on the use of woman- 
power: in January, 12,000 Waacs had 
seemed too many; but in December, 
1,200,000 seemed too few. 50 

The WAAC's first Christmas brought 
added praise from the Chief of Staff, in the 
name of the Army, for the Corps' spirit 
and contributions/' 1 At Christmas also, 
anticipating the greater effort that would 
be required by the impending General 
Staff decision, the Director telegraphed 
her staff, "May God bless you and give 
you strength for the task ahead." 5 - 

Indecision as to Planning Goals 

Strength of some sort was needed, for by 
January of 1943, planners feared that the 
WAAC could not survive unless the Gen- 
eral Staff's decision as to its size and fu- 
ture status came quickly. It had now been 
almost five months since G-3 had called 
for 1,500,000 Waacs without setting defi- 
nite goals. When these were not an- 



nounced by the beginning of 1943, it was 
necessary to set an interim recruiting quota 
for January of about 10,000, based on ex- 
isting training capacity. Reports indicated 
that this was being met, and that training 
centers were seriously overcrowded, yet by 
all evidence the Corps was still far from 
approaching the peak of General Staff ex- 
pectations. It was learned informally that 
it was the General Staff's intent to 
authorize at once still another training 
center, the fourth. Again field shipment 
schedules were outdated and previous 
plans held up/ 3 

At a meeting on 6 January, staff officers 
noted that, until it was known how big the 
Corps would be and how many new train- 
ing centers would be required, it was im- 
possible to set up shipping schedules or to 
tell Army stations when Waacs would ar- 
rive. The Quartermaster General and the 
Chief of Engineers were frantic for esti- 
mates on clothing and housing require- 
ments which could not be given them. 54 
Neither was it possible to publish detailed 
discharge and other regulations — to re- 
move the burden of cases still coming to 
the office — since the Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral desired to wait for a decision on the 
Corps' future status. 55 Staff members, in- 

48 Note on Memo, Mrs. Knight for Dir WAAC, 2 
Dec 42. SPWA 300.6 (3-30-42) sec 2. 

s " M/R, Stf Conf, 6 Jan 43. Folder, Memos Prior to 
7 Jan 43 in WAAC Planning, WAAC Planning files. 

51 Ltr, CofS to Mrs. Hobby, 19 Dec 42, in CofS per- 
sonal file, made available to author in December 1945 
by his secretary. 

52 Telg, Dir WAAC to Stf, 24 Dec 42. SPWA 
335.15. 

53 Memo, Tasker for Exec WAAC, 1 Feb 43. SPWA 
600.914 (2-1-43). 

sl Comment 2, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 5 Dec 
42, to Memo, Dir Reqmts Div SOS for CofAdm Serv, 
26 Nov 42. SPRMP 291.9 WAAC, DRB AGO. 

55 (1) ETO WAC Hist. (2) Ltr, WAAC Hq to Col 
Oscar B. Abbott, Hq ETO, 27 Jan 43. SPWA 320.2 
sec 2. 



PLANS FOR A MILLION WAACS 



111 



terviewed later, commented, "No one 
seemed to know what he was doing." One 
of the ablest of the early staff members, 
Colonel Tasker, who had been replaced as 
Executive by Colonel Catron, now gave 
up in despair and transferred to the Gen- 
eral Staff in spite of Director Hobby's pro- 
test that "his knowledge concerning the 
creation and growth of this activity is such 
that his reassignment would be a very real 
loss." 5e Similarly, First Officer Helen 
Woods, the first woman to serve as Acting 
Director, applied for transfer to a regional 
directorship as far from Washington as 
possible." 

By the end of the year it was obvious 
that the October office reorganization di- 
rected by General Somervell's inspectors 
was a failure, and Colonel Catron again 
reorganized the headquarters. Previous 
divisions were abolished and two new 
main halves were set up — Operating and 
Planning. It was thus hoped that the daily 
crises and emergencies of operation could 
be kept from disturbing the calmer at- 
mosphere necessary to finely calculated 
schemes and schedules, while at the same 
time action on urgent field needs would 
not be delayed because staff members 
were busy preparing estimates for the 
General Staff. The Planning Service was 
headed for a few weeks by Colonel Tasker 
and later by a new arrival, Lt. Col. Robert 
F. Branch; the Operating Service was 
headed by another new arrival, Col. How- 
ard F. Clark, a regular Army officer of 
many years' experience. For the more 
technical aspects of personnel planning 
and statistics, a civilian woman consult- 
ant, Miss B. Eugenia Lies, was also em- 
ployed. The employment of a civilian ap- 
peared to be the Director's first move to 
overcome the rigid channelization which 



prevented her contact with junior staff 
members, since Miss Lies was given au- 
thority to ignore all office channels in se- 
curing information for the Director/' 8 

This reorganization also was a failure 
almost from the beginning. Colonel 
Branch soon recommended that his large 
Planning Service be dissolved, saying, "It 
is a good deal like having a Diesel engine 
connected with a sewing machine." 59 
With Planning and Operating Divisions 
both the same size and considering the 
same subjects, it proved virtually impossi- 
ble for planners not to operate, or for op- 
erators not to plan; overlapping and dis- 
agreement resulted. Also, as Colonel 
Branch pointed out, it was useless for the 
WAAC to make any plans at all in the 
face of its dependence on other un-co-op- 
erative or dilatory agencies. He said: 

The opportunity scarcely exists for original 
or creative planning, since the problems of 
the Corps have been principally composed of 
situations after the fact. Action is therefore 
remedial in nature and choices are limited. 
Congressional action, War Department 
policy, and the attitude of other agencies are 
limitations which, regardless of their pro- 
priety or necessity, reduce the scope of plan- 
ning work. G0 

Many badly needed improvements, which 
were never made or which were delayed, 
were ordered by Director Hobby during 
this period. Finer adjustments and accu- 
rate research were to be impossible until 

5S Personnel Abstracts. WAG files, OCMH. 

57 AAF Western Flying Tng Comd, Santa Ana, 
Calif. 

58 Memo, Ping Serv for Dir WAAC, 18 Mar 43, 
sub: Progress Rpt, 16 Feb-15 Mar 43. SPWA 319.1. 

59 Memo, Chief. WAAC Ping Serv. for Dir WAAC, 
10 Apr 43. SPWA 020. 

50 Memo, Chief, WAAC Ping Serv for Dir WAAC, 
15 Apr 43, sub: Progress Rpt. 16 Mar- 15 Apr 43. 
SPWA 600.914. 



112 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



a solution could be found to the basic 
problems of survival. 61 

By the end of January, when no direc- 
tives were forthcoming from the General 
Staff, the WAAC planners, milling about 
helplessly among their schedules and flow 
charts, were in dispair. The office's Daily 
Journal for 1 February indicated: "Direc- 
tor asked General Grunert to obtain from 
the General Staff a definitive directive 
governing recruitment, training, and use 
of Waacs, particularly within remainder 



of fiscal year." As a result, General Gru- 
nert's office wrote the General Staff asking 
a quick decision on: "(1) how many Waacs 
we are to recruit and train by July, (2) 
where we can get training capacity, and 
(3) how we are to slow down recruiting if 
we do not [get the above]." G2 

B1 (1) WAAC Office Memo, 23 Feb 43. SPWA 
300.6 (3-30-42) sec 2. (2) Folder, Stf Confs (1942), 
and WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I (1943), in Hobby 
files. See also list of 24 Planning Service projects in 
WAAC Planning files, 1942. 

92 WAAC Daily Journal, dates cited. 



CHAPTER VI 



The Need for 

The delay in the decision to launch the 
expansion program was partially attribu- 
table to debate on a controversial matter: 
whether to give full Army status and rank 
to women. The War Department's deci- 
sion in this matter was never to be fully 
understood by many outside its planning 
group, representing as it did a complete 
reversal of the opinion of the previous 
year. For those inside the War Depart- 
ment, and for many station commanders 
employing WAAC companies, there actu- 
ally was no room for question in the mat- 
ter: the General Staff in fact was obliged 
to make the decision to grant Army status 
before it could authorize the expansion 
program. The evidence at hand over- 
whelmingly indicated that no great em- 
ployment of woman power was even re- 
motely possible under the Auxiliary 
system. 

Administrative Handicaps of an Auxiliary 

Almost from the moment the first Waacs 
reached them, Army field agencies had 
begun to bombard WAAC Headquarters 
with questions concerning which Army 
administrative procedures were applicable 
to the WAAC and which were illegal. This 
had once been considered a simple mat- 
ter; it was now discovered that in almost 
all legal and technical matters it was far 
from simple, and that the problem was far 
more than that of dispensing information. 



Military Status 

The questions were such that it was fre- 
quently necessary to consult authorities 
ranging as high as the Secretary of War, 
the Comptroller General, and the Bureau 
of the Budget before a legal answer might 
be obtained. 

Thus, on the universal question of 
whether Waacs might use the franking 
privilege when mailing their letters, The 
Adjutant General ruled that Waacs were 
"persons in the military service" for this 
purpose, but the Judge Advocate General 
ruled that they were not, and the privilege 
was rescinded after being widely used — a 
situation that distressed Waacs and caused 
many to realize for the first time that they 
were not soldiers or members of the mili- 
tary team. 1 As time passed, almost no two 
authorities agreed upon the occasions 
when Waacs could be considered "persons 
in the military service." To permit WAAC 
units to shop at post exchanges and share 
dividends, the Secretary of War was forced 
to declare them persons in the military 
service. 2 On the other hand, General Gru- 
nert, the Judge Advocate General, and the 
Veterans' Administration united to over- 
rule Director Hobby's request for Na- 



' (1) Memo, WAAC Hq for TAG, 21 May 42, and 
Ind. Published in WAAC Cir 2, 6 Jun 42. (2) Ltr, 
Postmaster Gen to SW, 17 Aug 42, and atchd deci- 
sions. WAAC Cir 9, 16 Sep 42, rescinded Cir 2. 

2 Ltr, Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 3 1 Jul 42, and Inds. 
SPWA 331.3 (7-31-4-2). AR 30-2290 amended 24 
Oct 42. 



114 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



tional Service Life Insurance for Waacs, 
declaring: 

Such persons are not in the active service 
in the land or naval forces of the United 
States. . . . The WAAC as constituted un- 
der existing law is essentially a civilian group. 
The principle upon which war risk insurance 
is founded . . . has no application to those 
in civilian occupations. 

G-l Division believed this decision unfair, 
and attempted to process new legislation, 
but this was vetoed by the Bureau of the 
Budget. 3 

Likewise, the Judge Advocate General, 
General Grunert, and the Comptroller 
General agreed that Waacs were not "per- 
sons in the military service" for purposes 
of making allotments under the Service- 
men's Dependents Allowance Act, nor 
could they even allot money from their 
own pay, since the act granted this privi- 
lege only to "members of the Army, Army 
Nurse Corps, contract surgeons, and civil- 
ians overseas." 1 On the other hand, Con- 
gress itself indicated that Waacs were 
"persons in the military service" under the 
Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act, so that 
The Adjutant General was able to issue 
Certificates of Military Service to protect 
members from litigation. 5 As for re-em- 
ployment rights, Congress indicated that 
Waacs who left Civil Service jobs had sol- 
diers' rights to reinstatement, but that 
those who left other jobs had not. When 
queried concerning state bonuses and 
other state benefits, The Judge Advocate 
General decided that each state would 
have to determine for itself whether Waacs 
were "persons in the military service" as 
interpreted by its laws." In some matters 
of finance, the Chief of Finance ruled that 
Waacs were "members of the military 
forces of the United States," but the Chief 
of Transportation was unable to find simi- 



lar authority to pay for mileage or for 
transportation of dependents. 7 

Such administrative annoyances were 
endless and apparently would continue to 
be so while the WAAC remained an aux- 
iliary. It was necessary to refuse Army sta- 
tion commanders' requests to award 
Waacs the Good Conduct Medal, to issue 
them the command's sleeve patch, to ap- 
point them as warrant officers; even the 
chaplains were obliged to secure a special 
amendment before they could give each 
Waac a free New Testament. 8 The final 



3 (1) Ltr, WAAC Tng Cen to WAAC Hq, 19 Jun 
42, and Inds; (2) Memo, Dir WAAC for Adm Serv 
SOS, 14 Jul 42, WA 291.9; f3) D/F. CofAdm Serv to 
WAAC Hq 29Jul 42, SPAAS 243 (7-6-42); (4) Ltr, 
VA to SW r , 21 Jul 42; (5) Min, Gen Council, 28 Jul 
42; (6) Ltr, Bur of Budget to SW, 1 Oct 42, and incl 
ltr, AG 291.9 (6-2-41). All in SPWA 314.7 (6-2- 
41)(l)sec4. 

4 (1) TWX, WAAC Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 3 Jul 
42; (2) Memo. Dir WAAC for Adm Serv SOS, 6 Jul 

42, with Ind. SPJGA 354.01; (3) WAAC Cir 4. lOJul 
42; (4) Memo cited n. 30(3); (5) Ltr, Compt Gen to 
SW, 6 Aug 42, B-27558; (6) WAAC Cir 7, 29 Aug 
42; (7) Min, Gen Council, 28 Jul 42; (8) Decision, 
JAG to CofAdm Serv, 4 Aug 42. SPJGA 354.01, 2d 
Ind. All in SPWA 314.7 (6-2-41)(l) sec 4. 

5 Memo. JAG for CofAdm Serv. 6 Aug 42. 
SPJGA 354.01, in WA 014.3. 

6 ( 1) Ltr, State of N. J. to TAG, 1 1 Jul 42, and re- 
ply; (2) Ltr, Los Angeles to JAG, 5 Oct 42; (3) Ltr, 
Induction Station, Portland, Ore., to Hq 9th SvC, 19 
Apr 43; (4) Ltr, Pittsburgh to WAAC, 1 7 Oct 42. and 
Ind, SPJGA 354.01, in SPWA 315.7 (8-2-4 ljU) sec 
4. All in SPWA 230.57 (6-15-42). 

7 (1) 2d Ind, CofFin to San Antonio Avn Cadet 
Cen, 8 Dec 42. SPWA 012.33. (2) Memo, TC for Dir 
WAAC through CofFin. 4 Sep 42! SPTOT 53 1 .2 (AR 
30-925), in SPWA 300.3 (4-29-42) sec 2. 

B (1) Memo, WAAC Hq for G-l, 24 May 43, sub: 
Good Conduct Medal. SPWA 200.6. Eventually 
granted. (2) Memo, Dir WAAC for CofAdm Serv, 21 
Apr 43. SPWA 400.34 (3-21-42)(l) see 3. T/E 
amended to permit sleeve patches. (3) Ltr, Ft Ogle- 
thorpe to O Dir WAAC, fi Jul 43, sub: Appointment 
of Bandleaders as WOs, and Inds. SPWA 211 (11- 
13-43), (4) Ltr, Dir WAAC to CofChaplains, 20 Jul 

43. SPWA 300.5, 1943. (5) Compilation for ready ref- 
erence to all points made by 3d Officer Bernice Kep- 
linger, WAAC Hq, 23 Nov 42. SPWA 314.8 (6-2- 
41)(1) see 4. 



THE NEED FOR MILITARY STATUS 



115 



word came from The Quartermaster Gen- 
eral, who ruled that Waacs were not eligi- 
ble for burial with a flag, military honors, 
or an escort to accompany the remains 
home. After conducting a Waac's funeral, 
an indignant American Legion post pro- 
tested: "It would probably interest you to 
know that, at this particular Waac's fu- 
neral, she was given full military honors re- 
gardless of what her status is, even though 
she has passed on into another world." To 
this a harassed War Department made no 
reply, probably believing that it was diffi- 
cult enough to determine a Waac's status 
in the present world without pursuing the 
matter further." 

There were minor points without num- 
ber in which Waacs did not receive all of 
a soldier's privileges. Under the new mili- 
tary pay scale, the WAVES were able to 
offer recruits $50 a month, whereas, the 
Auxiliary legislation limited the WAAC to 
$21 a month. A particularly serious dis- 
crepancy was the matter of disability 
benefits and retirement. Soldiers and 
Waves who suffered disabling injuries or 
illnesses were entitled to lifetime pensions 
and hospitalization, but Waacs, under the 
Federal Employees' Compensation Act, 
were entitled only to a few dollars' com- 
pensation. Under the law, the Army could 
give a Waac hospitalization only until her 
disability was pronounced permanent, at 
which time she must be discharged and 
ordered to leave the military reservation. 
She had no right to a pension or to vet- 
erans' hospitalization. 10 

The Auxiliary Disciplinary System 

Even had these lesser administrative 
difficulties not existed, there was another, 
important enough in itself to have invali- 
dated the Auxiliary system, and not capa- 



ble of solution by any course short of 
full Army status; this was the question of 
establishing a legally sound and equitable 
WAAC disciplinary system. 

It had been known since passage of the 
legislation that Waacs, like other civilians, 
could not legally be made subject to court- 
martial and to the Articles of War unless 
they were "in the field." This was not even 
a matter of discretion; no citizen of the 
United States could legally be tried by 
military courts unless he had military 
status or unless he accompanied an army 
in the field. When not "in the field," the 
WAAC had its own code of conduct, 
which was extremely strict but which was 
limited to civilian punishments for infrac- 
tions — fines, reprimands, restrictions, or 
discharge (white or blue); it could not 
legally subject members to court-martial, 
imprisonment, or dishonorable (yellow) 
discharge. 11 

During the autumn of 1943, Judge Ad- 
vocate General decisions began to make it 
clear that Waacs could almost never be 
considered "in the field" unless they were 
overseas or in the unlikely event that they 
should accompany an army on maneu- 
vers. 12 One station commander did actu- 
ally try a Waac by court-martial on the 
grounds that his station on the Eastern 
seaboard was subject to attack and there- 
fore "in the field," but by the time the 

" Ltr, OQMG to 6th SvC, 2 1 Dec 42; also Ltr, N.J. 
American Legion Post 16 to WAAC Hq. SPWA 293 
(12-10-42). 

10 Senate Com on Mil Aff airs, 78 Cong, 1st scss. 
Hearings on S 495 , 3 Feb 43, p. 18. For six months after 
discharge, pay and allowances continued if dischargee 
was hospitalized; no provision was made for hospital 
expenses in excess of WAAC pay scales. WD Memo 
35-46, 24 Jan 46. WDWAC 705. Also Min, mtgs, 
Jun-Jul 42. WA 300.3 (4-29-42) sec 2. 

" WAAC Regs, 1942 (Tentative), sec 47. 

''Memo, M. C. M., N. K. B., C. E. F . for Dir 
WAAC, 15 Dec 42, sub: Interpretation of "In the 
Field." SPWA 016.2. 



116 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Judge Advocate General had considered 
the legality of the proceedings, the Waac 
had served her sentence and been dis- 
charged. 13 The Judge Advocate General 
decided that other stations, if they wished 
to take court-martial action against a 
Waac, must first get a legal decision as to 
whether the post was currently subject to 
attack, and that "military police would be 
liable for suit if restraint was found im- 
proper." 14 

At first there appeared to be little need 
for military discipline to hold Waacs in 
their jobs, but when recruiting quotas 
were raised standards fell somewhat and 
several WAAC "Awols" occurred. The 
military police occasionally apprehended 
a few and began to ask the correct proce- 
dure to follow in returning them. One 
service command inquired: Could the 
procedure in Army Regulations and the 
Articles of War be followed? Or were only 
members of the WAAC qualified to arrest 
a Waac? Was it legal to confine them 
until they could be returned? 15 

WAAC Headquarters at first replied 
that the regular procedure should be fol- 
lowed, except that the women should not 
be confined in the same guardhouses with 
men and should have WAAC escorts on 
the return trip. As WAAC Headquarters 
attempted to revise the regulations to this 
effect, it became evident that there was no 
legal way to provide for the return of a 
Waac to WAAC control; in the few cases 
shipped back so far, the expenditure of 
government funds had been illegal. 16 

Army staff members surmised that 
nothing could be done except to let the 
woman go and to mail her a blue dis- 
charge. To this the Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral added that there was probably no 
legal foundation to the whole WAAC dis- 
ciplinary system: any punishment meted 



out by WAAC company commanders 
might be unconstitutional, since it was not 
done by court-martial and therefore de- 
prived the individual of civil rights without 
due process of law. Only admonition or 
reprimand would be safe. Restriction to 
quarters would be legal if it was not con- 
sidered "confinement." Summary (blue) 
discharge, said the Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral in an informal conference, was also 
probably "legal" although "without due 
process of law." This so startled WAAC 
Headquarters that it hastily drew up a 
directive to the field forbidding any fur- 
ther company discipline until the matter 
was settled. After consideration, this was 
not sent out; the Corps had gone too far to 
retreat, and since the Offiee of the Judge 
Advocate General itself had written the 
WAAC disciplinary regulations only a 
few months before, it was believed that 
some legal basis must exist. 17 

Accordingly, steps were taken to set up 
an exact procedure for trying offenses, so 
as to protect the individual. Also, after 
considerable debate, the authority of the 
military police was extended to apply to 
Waacs. This was somewhat risky in view 
of representations previously made to 
Congress that the women would be under 
virtually no more restraint than civilian 
employees except when "in the field." 
Therefore, to ward off Congressional criti- 

j;l Folder. Discipline, files of Air WAC Div, Hq 
AAF. 1943. 

14 Memo cited |n, 12~| 

'•' Memo, 7th SvC Internal Security Div for Gen 
Faith, 18 Dec 42, and Inds. SPWA 300.3 (4-29-42) 
sec 2. 

» ! WD Memo W635-6-43, 1 May 43, sub: Ap- 
prehension of WAAC Absentees. 

11 (1) Memo, Maj James R. Gifford for Exec 
WAAC, 6 Jan 43. SPWA 300.3 (4-29-42) sec 2. (2) 
Memo. JAG for G-l, 7 Mar 42. JAG 354.01, in WA 
300.3 (4-29-42) sec 1. (3) Two Memos, Stf for Dir, 15 
Dec. 42. SPWA 300.3 sec 1. (4) Weekly Rpt, WAAC 
Hq to CofAdm Serv, 14-19 Dec 42. SPWA 319.12. 



THE NEED FOR MILITARY STATUS 



117 



cism, the provision was made that Waacs 
would not be placed in guardhouses. Such 
official extension of authority was needed 
quickly if WAAC Awols were to be re- 
turned at all, since some service commands 
had already forbidden their military 
police to take any responsibility in effect- 
ing apprehension of absentees. 18 

Even if absentees were returned to their 
company, there was no way of holding 
them. "Restriction to quarters" could ob- 
viously not be enforced on a determined 
absentee unless several shifts of guards 
were placed in the barracks. 1 " As time 
went on, the situation became more than 
faintly ridiculous. Two young sisters 
named Lydia and Elvira wired Director 
Hobby: 

HAVE BEEN IN WAACS 3V2 MONTHS. NOW AT 
HOME ON EMERGENCY FURLOUGH. HAVE NO 
INTENTION TO RETURN. CANNOT TAKE BEING IN 
CORPS. NERVOUS WRECK AND WILL LOSE OUR 
MIND IF NOT RELEASED. MA NEEDS US BOTH AT 
HOME AND CANNOT RETURN UNDER ANY CIR- 
CUMSTANCES. PLEASE TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION 
AND REPLY. 20 

This was probably the only occasion in 
history when a deserter directed a com- 
manding officer to "take immediate action 
and reply." There were other cases even 
more annoying; for instance, four women 
who were picked up in Washington after 
repeated absences without leave. The re- 
port said: "The girls claim they know 
Regulations and nothing can be done to 
them to hold them if they want to go 
AWOL except discharge, which is what 
they want most." 21 In another case, a 
Waac from a large city alighted from the 
train at the dreary and isolated station 
which was to be her first assignment. 
Upon being informed that there were 149 
Waacs at a nearby station behind sand 
dunes and brush, she remarked, "Well, 



there won't be 150"; she climbed back on 
the train and was never seen again. 22 
Some new recruits even refused to comply 
with initial orders to active duty if they 
had changed their minds since taking the 
oath of enlistment. 23 

In other words, it was now clear that 
the Army had little more hold over Waacs 
than over civilian workers. The women 
could obviously leave the service at any 
time they desired, just as a civilian em- 
ployee could. Under such conditions it 
would be risky to replace thousands of 
trained men on any very vital or secret 
work with an equal number of Waacs who 
might depart as readily as other civilians. 
The large women's corps which the War 
Department planned could scarcely be 
built on such shaky foundations. 

Remedial Legislation 

Long before the examples cited had 
come to light, the War Department had 
perceived that remedial legislation would 
be necessary. Some three months before, 
General Marshall had directed prepara- 
tion of such legislation to give the WAAC 
the new pay scale beginning at $50 a 
month. Noting that the Services of Supply 
had taken no action on it in this period, 
the Chief of Staff expressed some annoy - 

,s (1) Memo, Dir WAAC for CofAdm Serv, 27 Mar 
43; (2) Memo, WAAC Hq for JAG, 15 May 43, and 
Inds. SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1. (3) Ltr, 2d SvC to 
WAAC Tng Cen, 16 Apr 43. SPWA 251.1. 

,! 'Ltr, SFPOE to WAAC Ilq, sub: AWOL— 
WAAC. SPWA 251.1. 

-" Telg, Lydia and Elvira B. to Mrs. Hobby, 15 Jun 
43. SPWA 251.1. 

21 Memo, Stf to 1st O Kerins, Field Insp Div, 23 
Jun 43. SPWA 251.5. 

22 Remarks of WAAC Stf Dir, 9th SvC. Min, Stf 
Dirs Conf, Chicago, 15-17 Jun 43, SPWA 337 (6- 
1-43). 

- :i Ltr, 7th SvC to Dir WAAC, 20 May 43. SPWA 
300.3 (1-7-43) sec 2. 



118 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ance, in view of the WAVES' competition, 
and wrote: "It should be pressed to the 
limit." 24 In the same bill, it was asked that 
the confusing WAAC grades, officer and 
enlisted, be changed to correspond exactly 
to the Army's, except that general officer 
grades would not be open to women. Con- 
siderable Congressional objection resulted. 
The House first voted to leave the Direc- 
tor's and assistant directors' pay at the 
equivalent of major and captain, respec- 
tively, on the grounds that "the duties and 
responsibilities of these officers" did not 
merit higher pay. After some delay, the 
pay bill was finally approved intact on 26 
October 1942. 25 

Other piecemeal legislation followed. 
On 23 July Congresswoman Edith Rogers 
had introduced a bill to give Waacs the 
benefits of National Service Life Insur- 
ance, but this got nowhere. 26 On 8 Octo- 
ber Mrs. Rogers introduced a bill to grant 
Waacs hospitalization and domicilary care 
by the Veterans' Administration. Five 
months later, after numerous vicissitudes, 
this provision, plus burial benefits, was 
enacted into law. 27 In October, Novem- 
ber, and again in January, bills were intro- 
duced to give free postage to Waacs, but 
these also got nowhere. 28 In October Mrs. 
Rogers introduced a bill to place the 
WAAC in the Army Reserve Corps. 29 
This was intended to supplant the pay bill 
and other partial legislation by making 
pay and everything else equivalent. It did 
not pass, because General Marshall infor- 
mally sent word to Congress that he be- 
lieved the pay bill urgent and did not wish 
to delay it with a more controversial meas- 
ure. General White reported: 

He [General Marshall] said that at that 
time the Corps was still in a formative period, 
we had no units actually organized and func- 
tioning with the Army [as distinguished from 



the Aircraft Warning Service], and under the 
circumstances he preferred that we go ahead 
as we were until we had gone far enough to 
know just how valuable this Corps was going 
to be to the Army. 30 

Introduction of WA C Bill 

By the beginning of 1943 General Mar- 
shall had changed his mind. He informed 
the Director: 

Although the Corps is still in the formative 
period of organization, its members have con- 
vincingly demonstrated their ability to render 
a vital military service. The standards of dis- 
cipline, training, and general efficiency are 
on the highest level and are a complete reas- 
surance to the officials of the War Department 
as to the outstanding services which will be 
rendered by this organization, 31 

In January Mrs. Rogers worked with 
the Director's Office to draft a bill for 
Army status. This she introduced on 14 
January 1943. The bill very simply stated 
that women might be enlisted and com- 

21 Memo, "G. C. M." to G-l. WDCSA 291.9 (8- 
31-42), in AG 291.9 (6-2-41). 

25 (1) Memo, G-l through CofS to MPD SOS, 24 
May 42. WDGAP 421 WAC, in CofS 291.9 WAAC. 

(2) Memo, Dir WAAC for Col Abbott, 20 May 42; 

(3) Ltr, Bur of Budget to SW, 2 Sep 42; (4) Memo, 
G-l for CofS, 2 Sep 42; (5) Ltr, SW to Chmn Senate 
Com on Mil Affairs, 3 Sep 42; (6) S 2751, 77th Cong; 
(7) Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 77th Cong, 2d sess, 
Hearings on S 2751 , 4 Sep 42; (8) Senate Calendar No. 
1655, Rpt 1603; (9) HR 7539, 77th Cong, 10 Sep 42; 
|10) HR Rpt 2475, 21 Sep42; (1 1) HR Rpt 2524, 12 
Oct 42; (12) PL 761, 77th Cong, 26 Oct 42. All ex- 
cept (1) in AG 291.9 (6-2-41). 

2 " HR 7435, 77th Cong, 2d sess, 23 Jul 42. 

27 (1) HR 7673, 77th Cong, 2d sess, 8 Oct 42. (2) 
HR 665, 78th Cong, 1st sess, 6 Jan 43. (3) Subcom of 
Senate Fin Com, 7 8th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on S 
230, 25 Feb-1 Mar 43. (4) HR 1749, 78th Cong, 1st 
sess. (5) PL 10, 78th Cong, 2d sess, 1 7 Mar 46. 

28 HR 7748 (27 Oct 42) and HR 7812 (24 Nov 42), 
77th Cong. 2d sess; HR 844, 78th Cong, 1st sess. 7 
Jan 43. 

2 " HR 7718, 77th Cong, 2d sess, 16 Oct 42. 
10 Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 78th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on S 495, 3 Feb 43, p. 4. 

31 Memo, 16 Dec 42. WDCSA 291.9 WAAC. 



THE NEED FOR MILITARY STATUS 



119 



missioned in the Women's Army Auxiliary 
Corps, Army of the United States. A later 
version changed the proposed name to 
Women's Army Corps, No limitations 
were placed upon the Secretary of War's 
authority over the size of the Corps, rank, 
pay, or any other matter. 32 

The War Department's official attitude 
toward the new bill was not at once made 
clear, but on 1 February the Secretary of 
War announced his support, stating: "Al- 
though in the past the War Department 
has not advocated the establishment of the 
Corps as a part of the Army, experience 
has proved that the present arrangement 
will not be satisfactory." 33 On 3 February 
General White of G-l Division told a 
Senate committee: 

We are now in the position of favoring that 
which we have heretofore in a sense op- 
posed — not that we did not want it in the 
beginning. . . . We have more than 10,000 
now actually organized into units and on 
duty in the field. . . . Wherever we have 
put them they have proved highly valuable. 34 

However, General White informed the 
committee that in his opinion a WAAC 
unit would not be able to replace an equal 
number of men, stating concerning the 
replacement: "Well, I do not think it will 
run quite one for one. I have always esti- 
mated that three women would release 
two men." 35 

By the date of the next hearings in early 
March, War Department support was 
considerably more enthusiastic. Reports 
from the first unit at Fort Sam Houston 
indicated that three women had replaced, 
not two men, but four. It was indicated 
that one woman could not replace one 
man in heavy work such as motor trans- 
port, but that women stenographers, 
typists, and switchboard operators could 
often replace two or more men apiece. 



Equally good reports also began to arrive 
from the North African unit and the anti- 
aircraft experiment, accompanied by 
requisitions for more Waacs. Thereafter 
the War Department without hesitation 
directed every station receiving 150 Waacs 
to effect replacement of 1 50 enlisted men — 
a rate which was actually better than one 
for one, since part of the women had to be 
used for unit housekeeping and were not 
available to replace men. 36 

In an effort to secure speedy enactment 
of military status for women, General 
Marshall informed Congress in early 
March : 

In recent months great strides have been 
made in the organization. Sufficient numbers 
have now been trained, organized into ap- 
propriate units, and placed on duty in vari- 
ous activities to enable us to know that we are 
moving in the right direction. I am now cer- 
tain that the women's organization will be of 
great value to the military service. . . . 

It is evident also that the operation of the 
women's organization will be simplified and 
its efficiency vastly improved if it is made an 
actual component of the Army. The person- 
nel of the Army have definite, defined duties, 
are subjected to prescribed disciplines, and 
have clear-cut relations to each other and to 
the civilian population. These have been 
found necessary to the effective functioning 
of military establishments the world over. 
They are equally important in the WAAC, 
which in its present half-civilian, half-military 
status will be seriously handicapped. . . . 

Having the Corps with the Army, but not 



32 (1) Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 
10-16 Jan 43. SPWA 319.12 (11-9-42) sec 1. (2) 
Identical bills HR 1 188, 14 Jan 43, and S 495, 21 Jan 
43, and later version, HR 1751, 8 Feb 43; 78th Cong, 
1st sess. 

33 Ltr to Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds, Chmn, Sen- 
ate Com on Mil Affairs, 1 Feb 42. 

34 Senate Com on Mil Affairs, 78th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on S 495, 3 Feb 43, p. 4. 

35 Ibid. 

™ House Com on Mil Affairs, 78th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on S 495, 9 Mar 43. Statement by Gen White. 



120 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



in it, also results in inequalities and injustices 
to its members. . . . There is, finally, the 
important element of morale. Membership 
in the Army carries with it a natural and 
proper pride . . . for which service in an 
adjunct of the Army provides no satisfactory 
substitute. 37 

General White in his testimony was 
even more specific on the administrative 
annoyances of an auxiliary system. He 
said: 

We have found that we run into adminis- 
trative, disciplinary, 38 and command diffi- 
culties. . . . The Army Regulations are not 
applicable to the Waacs. The Army Regula- 
tions are contained in a set of books as long 
as this table. It took years to develop them. 
Now we are faced with having to develop 
almost a parallel set of regulations to govern 
another part of the Army. . . . There are 
little things that are constant irritants. They 
are the same difficulties we had in trying to 
operate the Army Specialists Corps — people 
not in the Army working with and doing the 
same thing people in the Army were doing, 
on a different basis and in a different status. 
There are questions of relative rank, com- 
mand, administrative records, and so forth. 
It just simplifies the whole operation of the 
Corps to have them all alike. In other words, 
in the Army we want one category of peo- 
ple. 39 

No difficulty was encountered in the 
Senate, which passed the bill on 15 Feb- 
ruary 1943. The House of Representatives 
was another matter; its Committee on 
Military Affairs appeared hopelessly di- 
vided into two factions, which at public 
hearings fell to quarreling so vigorously 
that their chairman was obliged to remind 
them that such discussions should be taken 
up in executive session and not in the pres- 
ence of Army witnesses. 

One faction held with the congressman 
from Texas who said, "I spoke against it 
[putting the WAAC in the Army the pre- 
vious year] four times from the floor. . . . 



Then we went ahead and organized the 
other women's auxiliaries as integral parts 
of the other services; I feel that we are 
going to have to do this now, no matter 
how good my argument was before." How- 
ever, a representative from Indiana argued 
that draftees should receive soldiers' bene- 
fits, but Waacs and men who volunteered 
should not because they were not "forced 
into the Army " He also maintained that 
Waacs should not get soldiers' benefits be- 
cause they did not go into front lines; this 
provoked an argument over whether Gen- 
eral Eisenhower and the men in his fixed 
headquarters were entitled to military 
status. A congressman from Ohio joined 
in objecting to compensation for both hus- 
band and wife if both were in the Army 
and both were injured. 

It was also feared that a Waac's hus- 
band would get a government allotment 
whether he needed it or not, since the law 
provided this for a soldier's wife whether 
she needed it or not. On this General 
White observed, "I am inclined to believe 
that the Comptroller General, who at one 
time recently ruled, in effect, that women 
were not persons, would rule that hus- 
bands are not wives." The representative 
from Ohio also failed to understand why 
the Secretary of War could not legally 
make the authority of military courts ap- 
plicable to civilian women without giving 
them military status and benefits; this 
brought on another futile discussion of 
what "in the field" meant. 10 

It very shortly became clear that the 

: " Ltr to Hon. Andrew Jackson May, Chmn, House 
Com on Mil Affairs, 1 Mar 43. 

38 At the word disciplinary , Congressmen inter- 
rupted to inquire details, and discovered that General 
White was referring not to Waac misbehavior but 
to the legal and technical questions discussed above. 

33 Hearings cited jn. 36] 

,0 Ibid. 



THE NEED FOR MILITARY STATUS 



121 



House of Representatives would not pass 
the bill without any number of hampering 
amendments concerning the size of the 
Corps, the top rank attainable, the types 
of duty permitted, and the benefits to be 
allowed. These amendments would have 
to be fought out with the Senate and a 
compromise reached, and when, if ever, 
the legislation would pass now became 
uncertain. 

The first six months of 1943 were there- 
fore, from the Corps' viewpoint, to be 
much like the uncertain period of the 
previous spring, when passage of the first 
WAAC bill was not sure and all plans had 
to be made subject to change without 
notice. However, in this case, the Corps 
was not merely a plan on paper; it was a 
living organization which grew from 



12,767 women in December 1942 to 
60,243 in June 1943, and which required 
detailed administration. Passage of the bill 
was to be expected in March, in April, in 
May. Director Hobby said, when it did 
not pass in April, "I am sure it will come 
in May as a birthday present to the 
Corps. 41 But it was not to come in May, or 
in early June. 

Meanwhile, from January of 1943 on- 
ward, the War Department, insofar as 
legally possible, proceeded with plans for 
the expansion program, both in the United 
States and overseas, as if it were an assured 
fact that the Corps would be given military 
status. 



11 (1) Lecture by Comdt, Sch of WAG Pers Adm. 
OCMH. (2) Min, Gen Council, 5 and 26 Apr 43. 



CHAPTER VII 



Spring, 1943: Expansion 
and Decentralization 



A few weeks after the decision to seek 
military status, the General Staff on 30 
January and 6 February 1943 announced 
the long-awaited series of further decisions 
on the Corps' future — perhaps the most 
important staff action in the WAAC's 
existence. 

The first was that a draft of women 
would not yet be sought: "Plans for the 
procurement of personnel will be based on 
the continuance of voluntary enlistment." 1 
The proposal to draft women was still 
highly shocking to many individuals, and 
clearly would stand no chance of approval 
by Congress unless the military successes 
in North Africa should unexpectedly turn 
to disaster and the situation should ap- 
proach that of Britain, which had per- 
force adopted national service laws. Events 
of a year later, when national service was 
finally proposed by other agencies, con- 
firmed the present surmise that a draft 
proposal would merely have involved the 
Army in a bitter and ultimately futile leg- 
islative battle, without providing woman- 
power in time to aid in the current war. 2 

After making this decision the War De- 
partment faced a choice between attempt- 
ing to secure a large Corps by other means, 
or abandoning G-3's idea and increasing 
the draft call on men. In a preliminary 
conference with G-l and G-3 Divisions 



on 29 January, Director Hobby again in- 
formed them that in her opinion the 
WAAC could not recruit anything like a 
million women. Her frequently expressed 
view was: "I don't believe we are going to 
get even 150,000 volunteer women unless 
there is some move by the Federal Gov- 
ernment requiring national registration or 
compulsory service." 3 

Expansion Program Decided 

The important 6 February conference 
of General Staff representatives, which 
decided upon the expansion rate to be at- 
tempted, was headed by Maj. Gen. Idwal 
H. Edwards of G-3 Division, and included 
General Madison Pearson and other Serv- 
ices of Supply representatives, and both 
Director Hobby and Colonel Catron from 
WAAC Headquarters. There resulted a 
decision that appeared a moderate com- 
promise to all concerned, although actu- 



1 (1) Memo, G-3 for TAG, 30 Jan 43. WDGCT 
291.9 WAAC (1-30-43). (2) Ltr, TAG to CG SOS, 10 
Feb 43. AG 320.2 WAAC (1-30-43) PR-W- 
WDGCT. 

2 See Austin- Wadsworth bill, HR 1742 and S 666, 
7Bth Cong, 1st sess, 8 Feb 43; Congressional Record, 
Vol. 89. 

3 (1) WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 29 Jan 43. (2) 
Speech, in Min, Conf of Tng Cen Comdts, Washing- 
ton, D. C, 31 Mar 43, SPWA 334.8 Conf (3-29-43) . 



SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 



123 



ally it was to have calamitous effects upon 
every phase of the Corps' future program. 

To the conferees it was obvious that 
G-3's earlier optimistic calls for 1,500,000 
Waacs could not be met by voluntary re- 
cruiting and that it would be necessary to 
set a far lower figure, while simultaneously 
increasing draft calls for men to make up 
the deficit. Director Hobby outlined the 
various recruiting difficulties that were 
closing in upon the WAAC, particularly 
the competition shortly to be expected 
from the Navy and the War Manpower 
Commission. The date at which these fac- 
tors would be felt was uncertain, but she 
expressed the view that by June they 
would have cut off most if not all of the 
WAAC's intake. 

On the other hand, it was evident that 
thev had not yet had serious effect. In- 
stead, the Army Recruiting Service had 
overrecruited every quota to date, and was 
obliged, for lack of training space, to turn 
away qualified applicants. At Des Moines 
70 women slept in poorly ventilated stable- 
barracks intended to hold 50; at Daytona 
Beach, trainees were housed five to a tent 
and eight to a double hotel room. Desper- 
ate calls and letters from training authori- 
ties indicated that "Training Centers 
cannot stand such overloading." 4 

It was realized that to turn away appli- 
cants was probably to lose them. In order 
to insure next month's quotas, Army re- 
cruiting stations therefore often swore in 
surplus applicants and placed them on 
inactive duty until training space was 
available. 

By February this trick had backfired, 
placing the Corps under additional pub- 
lic and Congressional pressure. Enrollees 
who had resigned from jobs, given up 
apartments, and given away civilian 
clothing were vociferously indignant at 



months of delay and frequently wrote 
their congressmen. Negro recruits on the 
list alleged that they were not being called 
up because of their race. The number of 
enrollees on inactive duty, awaiting orders 
to report, was by this time almost one 
fourth of Corps strength. Some authorities 
attributed the later difficulties of WAAC 
recruiting to the fact that the presence of 
thousands of recruits awaiting training in 
these early days convinced other prospects 
and the public that the Army actually had 
no need for Waacs. 4 

As a result, conferees decided that the 
sensible course was to make available to 
the WAAC enough additional training 
space to scoop up at once all inactive 
members and current applicants — a course 
that appeared doubly wise, since Army 
jobs were already waiting and applicants 
would probably accept other war work 
unless taken at once. It would then be ap- 
propriate to decide, on the basis of the na- 
tional picture, how much farther it would 
be possible to go and whether further 
legislation should be sought. 

Accordingly, the goal finally set was 
that which General White of G-l Division 
had earlier recommended — 150,000 by 
the end of June 1943, a mere one tenth of 
G-3's first total. Minutes of the meeting 
noted that "present training facilities 
could . . . provide for a total enrollment 
on June 28 of 122,234 . . . and an addi- 
tional training capacity of approximately 
10,000 . . . will permit a total enroll- 
ment byjune 28 of 150,234." The matter 
of later expansion was "discussed, ac- 
cepted in principle, and left for future de- 
tailed consideration, with the idea tha J 

1 (1) Min cited ln. 3(2| . (2) Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq 
to CofAdm Serv, 14-20 Mar 43. SPWA 319.12. 

5 Contemporary Rpts, 1 Mar 43: Active — 35.662 - 
(21,925 in tng, 13,737 in fid); Inactive— 8,022. 



124 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



training capacity adequate for 150,000 by 
June 30 would be adequate for a greater 
number at the proper time." 6 

The greatest obstacle to the training of 
such a number was seen as the matter of 
supply, since, in both the previous recruit- 
ing step-ups of June and September, the 
Services of Supply had not been able to 
meet its commitments. However, there 
was placed in the record a schedule fur- 
nished to Colonel Catron by Require- 
ments Division, Services of Supply, which 
indicated that in the new program all es- 
sential items for the numbers contem- 
plated could be provided. 7 

The conference therefore directed, in 
language which in retrospect was to ap- 
pear curious, that "a controlled recruiting 
of approximately 5,800 a week will be put 
into effect." Although this goal possibly 
appeared small by comparison with G-3's 
earlier ideas, actually the Corps was called 
upon to triple its size in four months. 
Corps strength in March would approach 
50,000, of which only 14,000 would be 
trained or in the field, the rest being still 
in training or awaiting call to active duty. 
The new requirement meant that by 1 
July there must be about 104,000 in the 
field and 46,000 in training. This was a 
voluntary recruiting effort unlike anything 
ever previously achieved by the U.S. 
Army in any comparable circumstances in 
its history. 8 

Within hours of the General Staff deci- 
sion, the Corps was irrevocably committed 
to large-scale expansion. Recruiting 
quotas were at once doubled, with future 
tripling a necessity. Some 6,126 recruits 
had been admitted in December and 
10,421 in January. With a fourth and 
fifth training center in prospect, the quota 
was now lifted to 18,000 for February and 
27,000 for March. Thereafter it was ex- 



pected to hold steady at around 33,000 
monthly through June. 9 

The Services of Supply was already ne- 
gotiating for a site for the Fourth WAAC 
Training Center. After conferences with 
the Chief of Engineers, it had recom- 
mended a part of Fort Devens, Massachu- 
setts, which was excellently located to ac- 
commodate recruits from New York and 
New England. This site was shortly ap- 
proved but, like the site for the Third, only 
after the General Staff overrode the non- 
concurrence of the using command. It 
was directed that this center's staff of more 
than 1,000 be ordered in and be ready to 
open the training center in March. 10 

The site offered for the Fifth WAAC 
Training Center was less desirable; it con- 
sisted of three prisoner-of-war inclosures 
at Camps Polk and Ruston, in Louisiana, 
and Camp Monticello, Arkansas. This 
minimum-standards housing was available 
only because the Army had, at this date, 
taken few prisoners. Its use for Waacs was 
therefore proposed by G-3 Division, ac- 
cording to conference minutes: 

General Edwards stated that the housing 
situation had been carefully surveyed and 
that neither the Ground Forces, the Services 



6 Min, Mtg in Office of G-3, 6 Feb 43. Only copy 
found in file of Dir Mil Tng SOS, SPTR 337, DRB 
AGO. 

■ Ibid. 

8 All figures are from M/R, WAAC Overall Pic- 
ture, 1 Mar 43. SPWA 314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec 1. No 
two sets of estimates in the files ever quite agree; all 
are unimportant in that even the lowest estimate was 
never reached. WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 6 Feb 43, 
indicated that these goals were known to the WAAC 
by that date. 

9 For recruiting data, see |Ch. X and |Table 2| Ap- 
pendix A, below. 

10 (1) Memo, Tasker for Exec WAAC, 1 Feb 43. 
SPWA 600.914 (2-1-43). (2) WD Cir 63, 1 Mar 43. 
(3) Memo, G-3 for SOS and AGF, 3 Feb 43, and 
Inds. Tab. Fort Devens. WA 600.1 (7-2-42)(l) sec 2, 
1943 WAAC Housing files. 



SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 125 





FIRST OFFICER ELIZABETH H. STRAYHORN, of the Fifth WAAC Training 
Center, with Governor Sam Jones of Louisiana, a visitor on the post. 



of Supply, nor the Air Forces could make any 
further housing available without deferring 
the activation of military units. He stated, 
however, that there was a possibility that 
Prisoner of War housing, much of which is 
now completed and unoccupied, might be 
temporarily made available. . . . The total 
housing program for prisoners of war was in 
the neighborhood of 196,000 spaces, of which 
we had commitments with the British for 
only 150,000 spaces, while actual prisoners of 
war therein total only 6,600. 11 

The Provost Marshal General concurred 
in allowing Waacs to train there, provided 
they did not modify the group toilets and 
showers and other masculine-type plumb- 



ing facilities, and provided they would 
move out on thirty days' notice if German 
and Italian prisoners should need the 

place. 12 

The decision as to whether to accept 
this location was, according to Director 
Hobby, a difficult one. Its unattractive 
features were obvious, especially when 
compared to the WAVES and SPARS 
training schools at fashionable colleges. 
One recruiter asked, unnecessarily, 



11 Min cited |n. 6| 

12 Memo, CofAdm Serv for TAG, 1 Mar 43. SPWA 
314.7 (10-7-43)0) sec 1. 



126 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



whether the WAAC with its prisoner-of- 
war camps was not "suffering by contrast 
with the WAVES with Smith College, 
Holyoke, and Hunter?" 13 The Director 
therefore appealed to the Services of Sup- 
ply for any other location, even city 
hotels, but was offered nothing else except 
a desert camp below sea level at Tulare, 
California. The WAAC therefore was ob- 
liged to accept the prison camps in order 
to comply with the directed expansion 
program. 14 

The three scattered branches of this 
training center, some one hundred miles 
apart, made administration difficult. The 
buildings were bare and rough inside and 
out, located in desolate sandy stockades. 
Colonel Hoag, who was ordered from Des 
Moines to be commandant, said: "It was 
necessary to place the moving-picture 
theaters of Ruston 'off-limits' until they 
were cleared of rats and other ver- 
min. . . ." 15 General Marshall himself 
was concerned about the situation and, in 
a personal conference with Colonel Hoag, 
told him to push Special Services opera- 
tions at this training center. However, the 
Eighth Service Command later turned 
down Colonel Hoag's request for these 
services on the grounds that it had had no 
instructions from the Army Service 
Forces. 18 Director Hobby, upon a later 
visit to the Fifth WAAC Training Center, 
said, "I know of no finer example of patri- 
otism by Waacs anywhere than that which 
was shown by the women who worked and 
trained successfully at these camps," 17 

Expansion of WAAC Training 

In accordance with General Staff direc- 
tives, Brig. Gen. Don C. Faith's WAAC 
Training Command during the spring 
months underwent an expansion which 



overshadowed previous efforts. On 1 
March the Fourth WAAC Training Cen- 
ter was activated at Fort Devens; on 15 
March the Fifth WAAC Training Center 
was activated in the three prisoner-of-war 
camps, with recruits arriving a bare two 
weeks later. With these additions the five 
basic training centers had a capacity of 
46,388. This meant that some 7,000 
trained women — about 50 companies — 
could now be sent to the field weekly. 
There were 53 WAAC companies in the 
field at the end of February; by July, it 
was intended that there should be at least 
375. 18 

In addition to the five basic training 
centers, several specialist schools were set 
up to relieve the training command of 
some of the load of specialist training. 
Most important of these were seven ad- 
ministrative specialist schools set up at 
women's colleges in the South and South- 
west. These were under the jurisdiction of 
The Adjutant General, not General Faith, 
and were commanded by Army officers, 
with WAAC officers as instructors and 
company officers. Each had a capacity of 
about 600, and offered a six-week course 
designed to turn out trained administra- 
tive specialists. 19 Students of The Adju- 
tant General's schools, like men, were 
given the rank of private first class, 
although graduates of identical courses at 

11 Miss B. Eugenia Lies, The Overall WAAC Pic- 
ture (first draft), 28 Mar 43. SPWA 291.9, in Folder, 
Planning Serv Notes, WAAC Planning files. 

14 (1) Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 
7-13 Feb 43. SPWA 319.12 (1942). (2) WAAC Daily 
Journal, Vol. I, 5 and 8 Feb 43, 

15 Ltr to Col Catron, 27 Apr 43. SPWA 291.1. 

18 (1) Statement by Comdt, Col Hoag, at mtg cited. 
(2) Ltrs, Col Hoag to Col Catron, 14 Apr 43, Tab, 
Ruston, and 3 May 43. SPWA 291.1. 

1T Lecture notes, Lt Col Jess Rice. WAC files, 
OCMH. 

18 M/R, 1 Mar 43, cited |n. 8j 

1S WDBPR Press Release, 3 Mar 43. 



SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 



127 



WAAC training centers could not be so 
promoted, a circumstance that caused 
some discontent at the latter. 

The new schools were shortly successful 
in removing a considerable load from the 
WAAC Training Command; on the other 
hand, inspectors soon noted a natural de- 
crease in uniformity of operation, with 
some schools making no reports of person- 
nel actions. There was also reported at 
some Army schools a growing need for a 
senior woman officer to correct a certain 
laxity of supervision of living conditions 
which was causing public comment un- 
favorable to recruiting. 20 

In addition, three Army schools to 
train WAAC radio operators and mechan- 
ics were set up at civilian schools in Mis- 
souri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 
These had a capacity of about 300 each, 
and were under the jurisdiction of the Sig- 
nal Corps. 21 In February, the Army Air 
Forces admitted 50 Waacs to the twelve- 
week photographic laboratory technician 
course at Lowry Field, Colorado, and 
others to later classes.- 2 

From this time forward it became in- 
creasingly common to send Waacs to 
Army schools when their numbers did not 
justify separate schools for women. No 
particular difficulties were noted, and an 
ASF training inspector stated a few 
months later: "WAAC training, strangely 
enough, presents few problems. WAAC 
students at schools are eager to learn, and 
maintain discipline with less corrective ac- 
tion than men students in the same 
class." 23 

Delegation of Command Authority 

Before the increased numbers of 
trainees could reach the field, hasty ad- 
ministrative changes were necessary. 



While the training system was in process 
of expansion, WAAC Headquarters there- 
fore hurried to complete the delegation of 
its command authority to the field. It was 
realized that such decentralization was 
perhaps too early for full justice to indi- 
viduals, since the scanty field experience 
to this date had not provided a basis upon 
which all types of Auxiliary regulations 
might be carefully formulated, and Army 
Regulations could not yet apply; never- 
theless, the approaching expansion made 
the step necessary. Ready or not, it was 
obvious that in a Corps of 150,000 women 
WAAC Headquarters would no longer be 
able to process the thousands of individual 
transfers, discharges, and promotions. 
Already the length of time required to 
process discharge cases was such that, the 
field reported, "Many of these members 
are rapidly becoming mental cases due to 
the length of confinement awaiting author- 
ity for discharge." 24 

It was desired to realign the WAAC or- 
ganization in a way that would, as nearly 
as possible, parallel the command system 
for men and leave the Corps prepared for 
conversion to Army status, although, as 
the Director noted, planners were limited 
to doing "only those things which can be 
done legally" under existing legislation. 25 

Delegation of command authority to 
the service command level had been under 
way for some time. Before the end of 1942 



20 Memo, CG WAAC Tng Comd for Dir WAAC, 
24 May 43. SPWA 319.1. 

21 WDBPR Press Release, 14 Apr 43. 

22 WDBPR Press Release, 5 Feb 43. 

23 Min, Confof CGs of SvCs, Chicago, 111.. 22-24 
Jul 43. 

24 (1) Ltr, 1st Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 28 Jan 43; 
(2) Ltr, WAAC Stf Dir 4th SvC to Dir WAAC, 18 Feb 
43; (3) Ltr, TAG to Tng Cen Dirs. 27 Feb 43, SPX 
291.9 WAAC PR-W. All in SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) 
sec 1. 

25 Min, Stf Mtgs, WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I. 



128 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



service commands had been given power 
to send Waacs on temporary duty and de- 
tached service away from their stations, 
provided that enrolled women were sent 
only to stations where they could be 
housed with a WAAC company. Army 
stations were also given power to grant 
WAAC leaves and furloughs, with no re- 
strictions except those that applied to men. 

At the end of December that much-dis- 
puted power — assignment and transfer — 
was delegated to the WAAC service com- 
mand directors with no reservations, since 
these officers now thoroughly understood 
War Department ideas on safe and appro- 
priate locations. The wording of the circu- 
lar shortly had to be changed. It at first 
read: "Orders authorizing assignment . . . 
will be issued by the commanding general 
of the Service Command upon the request 
of the WAAC Service Command Direc- 
tor." This was pronounced offensive to 
commanding generals, since it appeared to 
place them under the command of a 
WAAC officer. Accordingly the wording 
was changed to: "The WAAC Service 
Command Director will request the com- 
manding general to issue orders. . . ." 

In February authority to promote en- 
rolled women was delegated to WAAC 
service command directors and company 
commanders, likewise the authority to de- 
mote, with certain safeguards to protect 
the individual's rights. In March, after 
some delay to get the approval of the War 
Department, detailed instructions were 
published to guide in the selection of 
women for attendance at officer candidate 
school; Army commands would receive 
quotas, appoint selection boards, and issue 
orders sending the selected applicants to 
the school. 

Finally, an even more important power 
was delegated, that of discharge, which 



would now be ordered by the command- 
ing general upon the recommendation of 
his WAAC director, unless he was in 
doubt, in which case he could send it to 
WAAC Headquarters. This delegation 
had required months of study to set up ex- 
act and just grounds for each of the 
WAAC's three types of discharge — honor- 
able discharge, discharge without specifi- 
cation as to character, and summary 
discharge — which did not correspond ex- 
actly to the Army's three types because 
they could not legally include a dishonor- 
able discharge. 2 13 

At the. conclusion of this series of dele- 
gations of authority, in early April, WAAC 
Headquarters retained within itself no 
more power over operating functions than 
that which The Adjutant General retained 
over male personnel — initial assignment 
of newly trained units, promotion of offi- 
cers, and appeal on doubtful cases. Of 
these it could not dispose until Army 
status allowed The Adjutant General's Of- 
fice to assume them. 

Inclusion in the Troop Basis 

At the same time, the General Staff de- 
cisions concerning Corps expansion and 
status had committed the Army to a 
course implicit in the program: the more 
complete integration of womanpower into 
every area and command. On 8 February, 
two days after the expansion program was 
launched, General McNarney informed 
the General Staff of a further decision 
which represented a new era in War De- 
partment thinking on the employment of 
womanpower: the WAAC strength was to 

2S WAAC Cirs 14 (4 Nov 42), 17 (29 Dec 42), 5 (13 
Mar 43), with note, in SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1 ; 
WAAC Cir 5 (10 Feb 43). 8(17 Mar 43), 10 (9 Apr 
43). 



SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 



129 



count against the Army's Troop Basis. G-3 
Division, in recommending this action, 
stated: 

Since the legislation was passed, concep- 
tions as to the most profitable methods of em- 
ploying members of the WAAG have 
undergone changes. . . . It is necessary to 
employ both soldiers and members of the 
WAAC only on those tasks which cannot 
otherwise be performed. 27 

General McNarney stated that the 
Army would voluntarily agree to draft 
one less man for every WAAC recruited, 
and that 

From now on the strength of the WAAC 
will be included as a part of the authorized 
troop basis and will form a part of the 7Vi 
million Army. 

On 22 February the General Council 
noted: 

General McNarney emphasized and re- 
iterated again that the purpose of Waacs is 
to replace soldiers. When Waacs are assigned 
to a post, a corresponding reduction of en- 
listed men must be made immediately. G— 1 
will check on this. 28 

Accordingly, the War Department di- 
rected that Waacs be removed from all 
employment that did not result in the re- 
placement of soldiers. The decision par- 
ticularly affected the plans, which some 
agencies still had not abandoned, to em- 
ploy Waacs in laundries, post exchanges, 
officers' clubs, and similar duties which 
had no allotment of soldiers. It was di- 
rected that WAAC Headquarters refuse 
all such requisitions. 

More important, the General Staff de- 
cision required the removal of approxi- 
mately thirty WAAC units currently as- 
signed to the Aircraft Warning Service. 29 

The demise of the Aircraft Warning 
Service WAAC units caused no grief in 
WAAC Headquarters. Nothing but diffi- 



culty had resulted from the use of Waacs 
mixed with civilians in city stations, with 
the Waacs inevitably getting less desirable 
assignments and becoming convinced that 
they had replaced not a soldier but a 
debutante. Already the possibility of an 
air attack on the United States appeared 
remote. The Aircraft Warning Service, on 
the other hand, declared Waacs essential 
and refused to give up about half of the 
women; instead, it allotted military vacan- 
cies for small clerical detachments at 
various operations and filter centers. The 
rest of the women were reorganized into 
the newly created post headquarters com- 
panies, AAF, similar to service command 
companies, for shipment to various air 
bases to perform real military duties. 30 

The Services of Supply now suddenly 
became concerned with the fact, which 
had not previously troubled it, that all 
WAAC units were assigned to the Services 
of Supply and only attached to the using 
service. It was immediately clear that 
Waacs would have to be assigned to the 
using commands in order to count against 
their troop allotment and not against the 
Services of Supply's. This coincided ad- 
mirably with the desires of the Air Forces, 
which had endured the service commands' 
administration of the city-stationed Air- 
craft Warning Service units but could not 
view with equanimity a Services of Supply 
invasion of actual air bases. 

Of the approved requests now on file, 
some 57 percent were from the Army Air 

27 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 7 Jan 43. WDGGT 291.2 
WAAG, in OCofS 291.9. 

2 " Min, Gen Council, for dates cited. 

29 Transcript of Mtg, 15 Feb 43 (Col Catron, Gen 
Grunert, Gen Madison Pearson). Dir Adm Serv ASF 
Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

30 ( 1) See Memo and Ltr cite d n. 1.1 (2) Weekly Rpt, 
WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 17-30 Jan 43. SPWA 
319.1 2 (1942). (3) AAF WAC Hist, p. 14. See Ch. 
jXVTl below, on AAF. 



130 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Forces and the remaining 43 percent from 
the Services of Supply and the Ground 
Forces combined. Accordingly, a tentative 
division of the first 150,000 was planned 
on this basis, with the Air Forces receiving 
the largest slice for field duty, although the 
training center allotment continued to be- 
long to the Services of Supply: 

Command Strength Percent 

Total 150,000 

Trainees, SOS 20,000 

Field duty 130,000 100 

AAF 70,000 54 

SOS 55,000 42 

AGF 5,000 4 

Although this division had neglected to 
take into consideration the future needs of 
overseas theaters and the War Depart- 
ment and was soon to require revision, it 
roughly determined the proportion in 
which shipments were to be made for the 
next few months. 31 

On 1 7 February it was directed that all 
Waacs would in the near future be as- 
signed, not attached, to the using agency, 
which might be the Army Air Forces, 
Army Ground Forces, Services of Supply 
(shortly renamed Army Service Forces), 
or an overseas theater. The formal trans- 
fer from attachment to assignment was set 
for 1 May. 32 

Staff Directors Assigned to New Commands 

If there had been risk involved in early 
delegation of discharge and other powers 
to the service commands, where were lo- 
cated experienced regional directors, it 
was -recognized that real danger lay in the 
necessity for scattering Waacs through all 
other Army commands and overseas the- 
aters, which had neither WAAC advisers 
nor experience in Auxiliary administra- 
tion. Therefore, it was decided that, before 
the formal assignment of enlisted women 



on 1 May, a WAAC officer corresponding 
to the service command director must be 
assigned to each major command involved. 
These included an eventual fifteen Air 
Forces commands in the United States, 
two Ground Forces commands, and many 
of the Army Service Forces' administra- 
tive and technical services, as well as ports 
of embarkation, overseas theaters, and 
other miscellaneous commands. To desig- 
nate all such WAAC advisers, the title 
WAAC Staff Director was devised, and 
the titles Service Command Director and 
Regional Director were dropped. All 
powers which had been previously dele- 
gated to a service command director were 
simultaneously made applicable to all 
WAAC staff directors. 33 

Immediate difficulty was experienced in 
finding qualified WAAC officers in suf- 
ficient numbers to fill these new and re- 
sponsible positions. The best possibilities 
appeared to be those women with some 
experience as assistant service command 
directors, as senior recruiting officers, or in 
WAAC Headquarters. These officers, ex- 
cept for a few in headquarters, frequently 
proceeded hastily from the old assignment 
to the new without any such indoctrina- 
tion as it had been possible to give the 
original nine service command directors. 

Another problem in sending out these 
officers was posed by an unexpectedly 



31 (1) Transcript citedfnZ23 (2) Memo, Dir WAAC 
for CofAdm Serv, 26 Jan 43. SPWA 320.2 (1-26- 
43)PS, in WAAC Planning files. 

32 (1) WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 17 Feb 43. (2) 
WAAC Cir 11, 10 Mar 43. Since December, when 
there first appeared the possibility of unprecedented 
expansion into commands other than the service com- 
mands, WAAC third officers had been attached to the 
AAF, the Signal Corps, and The Adjutant General's 
Office, to assist those agencies in the necessary plan- 
ning. WAAC SO 43, 5 Dec 42. SPWA 300.4 
(8-18-42). 

33 Ibid. 



SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 



131 



quick transition from Auxiliary to Army 
rules of promotion. The system of requir- 
ing all officers to graduate from officer 
candidate school, with initial commissions 
only as second lieutenants, had, in Mrs. 
Hobby's opinion, proved sound and dem- 
ocratic in avoiding the choice of officers 
on political or personal grounds and in 
preventing the award of higher ranks to 
individuals who failed on the job. Never- 
theless, as the WAAC Pre-Planners had 
recognized, the system was tenable only 
if women who had proved capable were 
advanced to ranks that would provide a 
normal spread of grades for Corps admin- 
istration. In line with this policy, WAAC 
Headquarters had in December promoted 
service command directors and battalion 
commanders to the rank of first officer, or 
captain. It was planned to repeat the proc- 
ess in April to give equal rank to the new 
staff directors being sent out, to make ex- 
perienced key officers majors, and com- 
pany commanders captains. 

However, when the Director proposed 
this move, she was informed by the Army 
Service Forces that the Army time-in- 
grade now applied to the WAAC, in an- 
ticipation of Army status later in the year. 
The Director protested that such abrupt 
application of the Army promotion sys- 
tem was impossible since the Corps had 
not initially followed the Army system of 
direct commissions: 

The Army of the United States, faced with 
a similar necessity for providing officers for a 
rapidly expanding army, has commissioned 
many men directly from civilian life, deter- 
mining their grades both by the nature of the 
job they have been asked to undertake and 
by the nature of their civilian experience and 
training. 

If the WAAC had done the same, she 
noted that in February the WAAC with 
its current strength of over 30,000 mem- 



bers would have had, at least, on the 
Army ratio, 183 lieutenant colonels, 329 
majors, and 848 captains; actually it had 
no lieutenant colonels, no majors, and 
only 82 captains. While no one desired 
these maximum numbers in a new organ- 
ization, the Director suggested that staff 
directors and unit commanders be ad- 
vanced to the rank to which their age, 
civilian experience, and military duties 
would have entitled them under the Army 
system of direct commissions. Otherwise, 
she noted, "The responsibilities devolving 
upon unit commanders and staff directors 
will not be adequately recognized, and 
they will be at a disadvantage in dealing 
with other officers of like responsibility but 
higher rank." Even under Army promo- 
tion policy, she noted that in similar emer- 
gencies West Point graduates and Air 
Corps men had been granted exceptions to 
the required time-in-grade. 

However, the Army Service Forces' 
final decision was that the Army time-in- 
grade must thenceforth be observed; even 
women occupying Air Corps positions 
must observe the longer time-in-grade of 
the Army instead of the shorter time of 
men in Air Corps jobs. General Grunert 
noted: "Notwithstanding the contem- 
plated expansion of the WAAC, there ap- 
pears to be little justification for such 
rapid promotion." One concession was 
made, in which some promotions to cap- 
taincies were permitted in April, but none 
to field grade. As a result, the new staff di- 
rectors went out as captains or lieutenants; 
by the end of the war, very few had 
reached the originally allotted rank of 
lieutenant colonel, and many company 
commanders were not yet captains. For 
promotions to the grade of major, only two 
exceptions were made during the re- 
mainder of the WAAC's existence, the first 



132 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



of these being for the officer sent to fill, in 
the Army Air Forces, a position compara- 
ble to Director Hobby's in the Service 
Forces. 34 

Major Commands Receive Waacs 
Army Air Forces 

At this point it was evident that the Air 
Forces' share of the WAAC field units 
would be almost double that of all other 
commands combined. It was currently 
scheduled to receive 253 field companies 
as against the Service Forces' 1 20 and the 
Ground Forces' 7. The receptive Air 
Forces attitude toward the employment of 
women was due largely to the announced 
policy of Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Com- 
manding General, AAF, who repeatedly 
wrote field commanders that efficiency re- 
quired the employment of Waacs to the 
widest extent possible, to make up man- 
power deficiencies. 35 

The Air Forces Waacs began arriving in 
March, accompanied by staff directors for 
the various subordinate air commands. 
The first unit, fifty-seven WAAC enrolled 
women and two officers, arrived at Jeffer- 
son Barracks, Missouri, on 3 March 1943 
to work for the AAF's Map Chart Divi- 
sion. On 22 March the AAF's first two 
WAAC post headquarters companies ar- 
rived at Chanute and Scott Fields. Twenty- 
three more WAAC units arrived at air 
bases in April; by the end of the summer 
there were 1 7 1 air bases which had WAAC 
personnel as part of the permanent party. 36 

The choice of a woman to head this 
organization and to serve on General 
Arnold's staff was not announced until 
May. Although the importance of the po- 
sition was second only to Director Hobby's, 



and in fact equal in echelon as long as 
the Director remained assigned to the 
Army Service Forces, the top rank which 
could be allotted was that of lieutenant 
colonel, in view of the legislative restric- 
tions which limited the Corps to one colo- 
nel. The position was given the title of Air 
WAAC Officer, and was set up as parallel 
to that of the Air Quartermaster, the Air 
Engineer, and other such staff officers. 

The woman chosen for this position was 
the Director's former aide and current act- 
ing deputy, First Officer Betty Ban del, 
who upon assuming this duty was pro- 
moted to be the Corps' first field director, 
or major; she was to remain the WAC's 
second-ranking officer throughout Direc- 
tor Hobby's tenure of office. The new Air 
WAAC Officer was at this time thirty 
years old; as the Director's aide she had 
accompanied Mrs. Hobby to Europe and 
on most field trips and thus had a firsthand 
knowledge of the WAAC situation. As 
Acting Deputy Director since February, 
she had written many of the Corps' more 
important staff papers and had played an 
active part in co-ordinating the decentral- 
ization plans with ranking officers of other 
agencies. 37 

Army Ground Forces 

Since the Army Ground Forces ordi- 
narily trained on ASF-serviced posts and 
needed overhead only at a few schools, it 
had been allotted only about 5,000 Waacs 
of the first 150,000 expected to be re- 



81 Memo, WAAC Hq for CofS through GofAdm 
Serv, 18 Feb 43, and atchd corresp. SPWA 314.7 
(6-2-41} (l) sec 3 ( 1941). 

35 See Ch. XVIJ below, for details. 

36 AAF WAC Hist, p. 17. 

31 WDBPR Press Release, 4 May 43. 



SPRING, 1943: EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 



133 



MAJ. BETTY BANDEL receives her leaves from Colonel Hobby. 



cruited. 38 Comment within its headquar- 
ters was unfavorable to integration of even 
this number, and AGF Plans Section 
stated: 

In view of the educational, occupational, 
and physical training of the average Ameri- 
can woman, it is anticipated that it would be 
extremely difficult to adapt them to military 
duties. . . . With the exception of a very 
limited number of assignments . . . there is 
no reasonable field for utilization of women 
in the military structure. 39 

Other comments added: "WAAC activi- 
ties should not be expanded if it can be 
avoided . . . definitely opposed to coed 



organization." 40 Accordingly, Lt. Gen. 
Lesley J. McNair, Commanding General, 
AGF, wrote the War Department that "for 
the present, the WAAC should be con- 
tinued only in limited size," and should 
not be placed in the Army: "It seems pre- 
mature to anticipate manpower shortages 



38 Ltr, TAG to CG AGF, 1 Apr 43. AG 320.2 WAC 
(3-12-43) PR-W-WDGAR 

39 The WAC in Army Ground Forces in World War 
II (hereafter cited as AGF WAC Hist), Vol. I, p. 4. 
This study was prepared by t he AGF WAC Officer 
Lt. Col. Emily E. Davis. (See |Bi biographical Note.) 
Folder, WAC, AGF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

40 Ibid., comment of G-l AGF. 



134 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



so critical as to demand the extraordinary 
measures here contemplated." 41 

General McNair objected also to the 
allotment of 5,000, which had been based 
by the General Staff on proportionate 
overhead strength of male personnel, 
without his comment or consent; he asked 
that the allotment be set back to 3,600. 
This was done by the War Department, 
and the remaining 1,400 reallotted to 
overseas theaters. 42 

Under the impression that Waacs would 
always be administered by the Service 
Forces, the Ground Forces had already 
consented to receive some 1,700 Waacs at 
six different stations. The pioneer unit 
went to the Second Army at Memphis on 
26 March 1943, and in April the others 
followed in rapid succession to Camp 
Hood and Forts Benning, Sill, Riley, and 
Knox. These installations followed their 
own inclinations, some allowing service 
commands to administer the Waacs, and 
some prematurely employing AGF chan- 
nels to WAAC Headquarters. Within 
AGF headquarters, all WAAC matters 
were referred to G-3 Section rather than 
to G-l, under the impression that WAAC 
problems chiefly concerned units rather 
than personnel. The Ground Forces de- 
clined to accept the assignment of a 
WAAC staff director or any WAAC officer 
in its headquarters. 43 

Army Service Forces 

Within the third of the major domestic 
commands, the Army Service Forces, the 
number of the service command staff di- 
rectors was increased by the addition of 
other staff directors for the ASF technical 
services. This action was highly pleasing 
to most such services, which had long 
resented the interference of service com- 
mand directors and had repeatedly asked 



that their own command channels be 
used. For example, Aberdeen Proving 
Ground objected to sending officer candi- 
date applications and discharges through 
the Third Service Command, since Aber- 
deen was under the Chief of Ordnance. 
Inasmuch as many of the technical serv- 
ices were engaged in highly secret research 
and other activities, most felt that inspec- 
tion by a member of another command 
was inadvisable. The appointment of 
WAAC staff directors for Ordnance and 
other services ordinarily ended such objec- 
tions, and made command channels the 
same as those for men. 44 

Employment of Waacs among these 
technical services now promised to be- 
come rather extensive. The Transportation 
Corps placed a senior WAAC staff director 
in its Washington headquarters, and others 
in the various ports where Waacs were to 
be stationed in numbers — New York, 
Hampton Roads, New Orleans, San Fran- 
cisco, and Seattle. Since most ports were 
in labor-short areas, they were already 
hard-hit by the loss of general service men. 

The Chemical Warfare Service likewise 
foresaw a future lack of military personnel 
for permanent domestic installations, and 
desired to obtain Waacs whose research, 
once begun, would not be interrupted by 
withdrawal for combat duty. A WAAC 
staff director was therefore requested by 
the Chemical Warfare Service in March 
of 1943, and its first Waac company ar- 
rived in April. 



41 Memo, GG AGF for CofS, Attn: G-3, 1 Jan 43. 
GNDCG 320.2 WAAC (12-7-42). Full text in appen- 
dix to Ibid. 

42 1st Ind to AG Memo, sub: Utilization of WAAC 
Pers in AGF. GNGCT 320.2/5 WAAC (4-1-43). 
Copy in App. VI of AGF WAC Hist. 

43 AGF WAC Hist, pp. 12-13. 

44 (1) Memo, WAAC Hq for TAG, 5 Jun 43; (2) 
Ltr, Aberdeen Proving Ground to WAAC Hq, 7 Jul 
43, and reply. SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec 2. 



SPRING, 1943; EXPANSION AND DECENTRALIZATION 



135 



The Corps of Engineers now also requi- 
sitioned Waacs for an important project at 
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, so secret that its 
character could not be revealed. 

The Signal Corps secured adoption of a 
plan to place in the WAAC some 8,000 
civilian women, known as WIRES (Wom- 
en in Radio and Electrical Service), whom 
it was training in radio, telephone, and 
other communications work; a staff direc- 
tor had already been accepted. 

Medical Department requests also came 
in for the first time on 13 March, and 
totaled 20,869 or from 30 to 50 percent of 
enlisted personnel in hospitals of 500 beds 
or more. The requests were for women 
trained in various medical skills and also 
for clerks, drivers, and mechanics, plus 
4,000 orderlies and others for low-grade 
work around hospitals. No staff director 
was accepted. 45 



theater, Capt. Anna W. Wilson, arrived in 
England on 13 April 1943 to plan for later 
shipments. No firm shipment priorities 
had yet arrived, and the several requisi- 
tions for Waacs were by this time so con- 
fused and overlapping that it was-impossi- 
ble to tell whether they concerned the 
same or separate units. Captain Wilson 
found that the theater had so little infor- 
mation about the Corps' mission and 
capabilities that specific requests were 
difficult; when this was supplied, the 
Eighth Air Force in the theater requested 
a WAAC battalion, and supplied a firm 
shipping priority. The first unit for Eng- 
land therefore began to be organized, and 
was to reach the theater in the summer 
shortly after the Corps obtained military 
status. Other earlier shipments to the 
North African theater were also author- 
ized. 47 



Overseas Theaters 



Readiness for Increase in Numbers 



The decentralization of authority ap- 
plied even to overseas theaters, since 
approaching legislation would give the 
Waacs the military status that would make 
further shipment morally justifiable. Re- 
quests from the North African and Euro- 
pean theaters were by now so extensive 
that a War Department decision on pri- 
ority was necessary. Director Hobby 
favored priority to the zone of the interior, 
but theaters argued that skilled Waacs had 
proved able to replace from two to three 
men apiece in North Africa, and that, in 
view of the difficulty of maintaining per- 
sonnel overseas, theaters should get the 
most competent. Both General Somervell 
and General Marshall inclined to this 
view, and finally informed the Director 
that overseas theaters' requests would 
have priority. 46 

The staff director for the European 



By late spring of 1943 the WAAC or- 
ganization was thus fully decentralized 
and well prepared, as far as mere skeletal 
organization was concerned, for Army 
status and for expansion to any number. 
Its staff advisers were in almost every im- 
portant Army command, learning its 
needs and peculiarities; its command 
powers were so delegated that shift to 
Army status would scarcely be noticed; its 
training system was fully staffed and capa- 
ble of accommodating large numbers of 
recruits. The administrative network was 
ready. Had no other factor been involved, 
expansion to a million or more upon this 
frame appeared easily possible. 



45 See section on each service in ph. 

Hq Opns 



Xyilll below. 

Office Memo, WAAC Hq Opns Br for Exec 
WAAC, 29 Mav 43 . SPWA 320.2 sec 4a. 
" See Chs. klXl and |XX,| below. 



CHAPTER VIII 



Stresses of Rapid Build-up: 
Personnel and Training 



In spite of its excellent framework, the 
expansion program was hardly launched 
before it became evident what stresses 
such a rapid build up would carry with it. 
In some respects these had been antici- 
pated, since they were comparable to those 
which the Army as a whole had recently 
encountered; but there remained one 
major point of difference: the women's 
services were dependent upon voluntary 
recruiting. As the spring of 1943 wore on, 
it became clear that stresses easily sup- 
portable in themselves might nevertheless 
have an exaggerated effect upon public 
opinion and the supply of recruits. It was 
gradually recognized that any attempt at 
quick expansion by voluntary recruiting 
carried within itself the seeds of self-defeat. 

Training Center Confusion 

From the viewpoint of the WAAC train- 
ing centers, the first six months of 1943 
had all the aspects of chaos. As successive 
new centers were staffed, commandants 
and key officers seldom stayed more than 
a few months in any location; experienced 
instructors, cadre, supply officers, classifi- 
cation officers, all moved to open new 
centers before projects could be completed 
or reports made. As new field companies 
had to be formed, some basic companies 
were reported to have lost their cadre sev- 



eral times in the four-week basic training. 
A recruit who trained at Camp Polk 
wrote: 

We changed officers so often that no one 
knew who was looking after us. We seldom 
had the same instructor or classroom two 
days in a row, and some instructors must 
have just taken over classes because they 
knew nothing about them. We didn't learn a 
thing. We never even had a retreat parade 
the whole time, and I made a fool of myself 
during one when I got to Fort Riley later. In 
our last class the workmen walked in and 
took out the furniture and just left us stand- 
ing there. 1 

Field complaints indicated that training 
authorities sometimes shipped units with- 
out advance notice to the station; service 
records and classification cards at times 
did not accompany unit movement but 
arrived as much as two weeks late, incom- 
plete and incorrect, after assignments had 
been made without benefit of records. Sta- 
tions protested when Waacs arrived after 
cross-country trips in dirty coaches with- 
out lights or sanitary facilities and with no 
one responsible in charge. 2 At one station 



1 Interv with Miss Dorothy Pat Costello, former 
WAC sergeant, 4 Aug 48. 

2 d) Ltr. 2d SvC to Dir WAAC, 9 Mar 43, sub: 42d 
WAAC Post Hq Co. SPWA 319.1. (2) Ltr, Col How- 
ard Clark, Chief, Opns Serv WAAC Hq to 2d Tng 
Cen, 20 Mar 43. SPWA 319.1-os. (3) Ltr, 2d SvC to 
Dir WAAC, 1 Dec 42, and Inds. WA 513 (11-26-42) 
Transportation. 



PERSONNEL AND TRAINING 



137 



the unit was in the field ten days before an 
officer arrived. The staff director reported, 
"Undoubtedly the timing went wrong 
somewhere, but it created an unfortunate 
impression of WAAC organization." 3 

There were also more lasting inconven- 
iences to stations receiving units. Enrolled 
women of low ability or questionable 
character, who once had been weeded out 
at training centers, now were undetectable 
in the general confusion and were the sub- 
ject of complaint when they arrived at 
field stations. Company officers and cadre 
for outgoing units were lumped together 
from whatever was available at the mo- 
ment, without much consideration of such 
factors as relative age and civilian expe- 
rience, although these were often the mar- 
gin between success and failure in groups 
of women destined to spend the rest of the 
war together in one installation, Untried 
cadre were promoted by training centers 
to the grades specified in the Table of Or- 
ganization, often leaving units in the field 
saddled with incompetents who had too 
much rank to be reassigned. Officers were 
sent out as company commanders who 
had little or no experience or aptitude for 
the work; Maj. Betty Bandel noted, con- 
cerning the Air Forces, "Our greatest 
problem is our company commanders. I 
make a special plea that at least one ex- 
perienced officer go out with any new unit 
to the field." 4 

Field stations frequently complained 
that neither WAAC officers nor enrollees 
arriving from training centers knew any- 
thing about WAAC rules and regulations, 
and did not have copies of them. Some 
company commanders considerably em- 
barrassed their staff directors by informing 
station commanders that the Army had 
no jurisdiction whatever over WAAC 
units. Others had little idea of real Army 
life in the field, and attempted to inculcate 



a state of discipline and daily routine suit- 
able only for a brief and strenuous basic 
course, but impossible to sustain in a 
working unit. 5 

Commissioning of Unqualified Officers 

Among early casualties of the expansion 
program were the original perfectionist 
plans for avoiding British mistakes in offi- 
cer selection. As soon as the expansion 
program was directed, it was evident that 
the original carefully selected 1,300 offi- 
cers would be insufficient to staff the new 
units. Since officer candidate training was 
weeks longer than basic training, it became 
necessary to begin large officer candidate 
classes before the women to be com- 
manded were even recruited. Unavoid- 
ably, almost all came from the training 
centers, since most companies in the field 
were still in transit or had not had time to 
set up boards and select officer candidates, 
although it was well known that many of 
the best-qualified women had been placed 
in early field companies, while those in the 
training centers had not yet had oppor- 
tunity to demonstrate leadership under 
actual field conditions. 

As available personnel in training cen- 
ters was combed over again and again for 
successive classes, quality fell rapidly. 
Daytona Beach complained that it had to 
furnish four large groups of officer candi- 



3 Ltr, WAAC Scf Dir WFTC to Exec WAAC, 3 Jun 
43. SPWA 3)9.1. 

4 Comment of Air WAAC Off, Min, Stf Dirs Conf, 
Chicago, 15-17 Jun 43. SPWA 337 (6-1-43). Also see: 
(1) other comments in Min; (2) Memo, Consultant 
(Miss Lies) for Dir WAAC, 6 May 43. Ping Proj 6, 
WAAC Planning files, 1943. 

s (1) Rpt of 2d SvC, Min cited n. 4. (2) Interv with 
Lt Col Katherine R. Goodwin, former Stf Dir 1st SvC, 
31 May 46. (3) Statement by Lt Col Jessie P. Rice, 
former Stf Dir 3d SvC, in speech at Purdue Univ., 
Apr 45. (4) Min, Stf Dirs Conf. New York. 1-3 Dec 
+3. SPWA 337 (11-10-43). 



138 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



dates from its cadre alone, before trainees 
arrived, and that while the first group was 
good, the last three were extremely doubt- 
ful. Board members at Des Moines re- 
ported, horrified, that they had given the 
lowest possible scores to certain applicants 
who were judged impossible material be- 
cause of poor appearance, manners, edu- 
cation, and possibly morals, yet to make 
up the required quota they were directed 
by the WAAC Training Command to go 
to the bottom of the list and accept every 
applicant on it. 

General Faith, in directing this action, 
noted that the WAAC had no choice if it 
was to meet the expansion plans. He there- 
fore ordered boards to be realistic and 
admit some candidates who would make 
good second lieutenants although they 
would never be able to advance higher: 
"The ability to advance to high rank, 
which was very important in the original 
selection of officer candidates, has become 
of less importance as the total number of 
officers already commissioned has in- 
creased." 6 He directed boards under his 
Training Command not to reject anyone 
finally, since the ones rejected one week 
might be better than those available the 
next. General Faith suggested to the Di- 
rector that she order officer candidate 
boards in the field to follow this system, 
but she did not concur, and instead pub- 
lished a field directive which established a 
selection system much like the Army's. 7 

Even if good candidates were sent by 
posts or training centers, they did not in- 
variably receive commissions. During the 
hectic months of expansion the WAAC 
Officer Candidate School came to share 
with men's schools a problem of which 
Army inspectors noted: 

In many [Army officer candidate] schools, 
performance on the drill field was used as a 



means of separating those with 'leadership' 
qualities from those lacking such character- 
istics ... a loud voice and a general air of 
confidence indicated that 'leadership' was 
probably satisfactory. 8 

Numerous field complaints were received 
on this score; for example, the Fifth Serv- 
ice Command protested the "washing out" 
of three of its candidates who, in spite of 
leadership ability demonstrated in the 
field, had been rejected for "no voice and 
command," "could not drill," and "no 
pep and enthusiasm." 9 Similarly, the 
Transportation Corps protested concern- 
ing thirteen women who had all "washed 
out for voice and command, nothing 
else." 10 After frequent complaints, Direc- 
tor Hobby sent to the Training Command 
for transcripts of "murder board" hear- 
ings, which convinced her that too much 
emphasis was placed on youth and physi- 
cal contour, and too little upon character 
and past accomplishments. At a time when 
field stations were pleading for mature 
officers, boards had informed applicants 
that an age as advanced as 35 years, if 
apparent, was disqualifying." 

o Ltr, CG WAAC Trig Comd to Dir WAAC, 3 Feb 
43, and pencil notes thereon with Dir's nonconcur- 
rence. SPWA 291.9 (2-3-43). 

7 (1) Ltr, Dir Tng, 2d WAAC Tng Cen to Dir 
WAAC, 8 Mar 43. SPWA 319.1. (2) Rpt, 2d O Ann 
Danovsky, et al, to 2d O M. E. Treadwell, Des Moines 
Office Dir Tng, Confirmed by intervs with Maj Helen 
Hanson, head of OCS and Dir Tng, 3d Tng Cen. (3) 
WAAC Cir 8, 1 7 Mar 43, Sec VIII. Circular had been 
requested a month earlier, Memo for CofAdm Serv, 
19 Feb 43. SPWA 300.2 (1-7-43) sec 1. (4) Speech by 
Dir Hobby, 9 Jun 43. Min, Conf of Offs to Supervise 
OC Bds. SPWA 334.9 (6-10-43). 

s ASF Hist of Military Training: Officer Candidate 
Training, 1941-45. (Hereafter cited as ASF Hist of 
OCT.) OCMH. 

9 Ltr, 5th SvC to Dir WAAC, 27 Jul 43. SPKEB 
341, in SPWA 341 R (1942). 

10 Min cite d! n. 4] especially rpts by San Francisco 
POE and by Dir Hobby. 

11 Ibid.; also interv with Maj Patricia Lee Chance, 
Exec WAC, 1945. 



PERSONNEL AND TRAINING 



139 



Her discovery of the collapse of stand- 
ards at training centers came too late. In 
the few brief months before the end of the 
summer, half of all WAAC officers were 
women without previous experience in 
jobs more responsible than those of clerks, 
typists, stenographers, and secretaries — 
including sixteen actresses, fourteen chorus 
girls, fourteen waitresses, and varying 
numbers of beauticians, charwomen, la- 
borers, chauffeurs, and housekeepers, as 
well as one undertaker. Education had 
also declined from earlier standards. 
About 31 percent of WAAC officers now 
had only high school education or less — 
about 5 percent had less — while another 
28 percent had not completed college; 
only 41 percent were college graduates, 
Still worse, 30 percent of officers were less 
than twenty-five years old. 

Upon learning these facts, WAAC 
Headquarters took action to set up an- 
other campaign to get more officer candi- 
dates from civilian life, but before this 
could well come into operation, the Corps 
had reached almost the top officer strength 
it was to be permitted. The WAAC by the 
end of its first year had over 5,800 officers, 
who were, with the later failure of the ex- 
pansion plan, to be enough for the rest of 
the war. Only a few hundred more were to 
be commissioned in the remaining years, 
so that many of the unsuitable officers so 
hastily commissioned did not remain sec- 
ond lieutenants, as General Faith had 
expected, but were pushed up gradually 
as the Corps expanded. Embarrassing as 
this deficiency was to everyone concerned, 
the WAAC had experienced no more 
problem in this respect than the Army; 
remarkably enough, even this lapse had 
not brought the average of WAAC officer 
education below that of Army officers. 
However, even a minority of unsuitable or 



rank-happy officers were always to be ex- 
tremely conspicuous in a women's serv- 
ice. 12 

Unsuitable Mentors 

The expansion program also made it 
impossible to carry out Director Hobby's 
recent order that male officers in training 
centers be replaced by Waacs, the most 
unsuitable to be the first weeded out. The 
"man-woman factor," unprecedented in 
Army schools, afforded opportunities for 
maladministration which all too fre- 
quently were found to have been realized. 
General Faith later estimated that male 
offenders under his command totaled not 
more than 5 percent, and that these were 
immediately relieved from duty if discov- 
ered in misconduct. Nevertheless, scat- 
tered reports continued to be received 
from all training centers of cases in which 
women's advancement was allegedly 
based on matters other than merit. 

The gravest situation in this respect was 
that at Daytona Beach, which was investi- 
gated at Director Hobby's request by op- 
eratives from the Military Intelligence 
Service in Washington as well as by the 
Fourth Service Command's inspector gen- 
eral. These inspectors' reports noted that 
certain of the Army officers in highly re- 
sponsible positions were drinking and mis- 
conducting themselves with Waacs and 
were promoting to positions of leadership 
only those who offered them favors in 
return. Members of the Army staff, when 
written statements were taken, officially 
accused each other of "running around" 



12 (1) Memo, Capt Ruby E. Herman, WAAC Hq. 
for Dir WAAC, 12 Nov 43, with incl statistics, 12 Nov 
43, made as of 15 Sep 43. Unnumbered folder, 1943 
WAAC files. (2) ASF Hist of OCT, 1941-45, pp. 
15-16, 74. OCMH. 



140 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



and "carrying on" with Waacs, and of 
using force on enlisted women while 
drunk. 13 A Waac visitor described a re- 
sulting situation of "sycophancy" by senior 
WAAC officers and of "obsequious flat- 
tery" among junior ones. When a WAAC 
inspector arrived, she learned that women 
were in many cases not assigned in accord- 
ance with real skills and abilities. 14 

In view of the fact that many of the offi- 
cers assigned to WAAC training centers 
had been pronounced "culls" by the com- 
mandant when first assigned, it was per- 
haps remarkable that more serious situa- 
tions did not develop in all of the various 
training schools. Concerning the common 
practice of assigning second-rate officers 
to staff women's schools, the Bureau of 
Naval Personnel observed that in the 
WAVES' program "it was a penny-wise- 
pound-foolish policy not to detail the 
handful of first-rate men it would have 
taken to have established the whole pro- 
gram on the best possible basis." u ' 

Observers noted that these unsuitable 
mentors often had an unfortunate effect 
upon newly commissioned, inexperienced, 
and eager-to-please female officers. 
Through a process of what Army psychia- 
trists called "mimesis," or unconscious 
imitation, as well as through a conscious 
desire to secure advancement, women 
copied supervisors who were not in them- 
selves models of Army leadership. Imita- 
tion was noted not only in standards of 
morals and public behavior, but in lan- 
guage and attitude toward trainees. The 
senior WAAC officer at Des Moines, beset 
by critics at a staff directors' meeting, ad- 
mitted, "I have been told that some of our 
officers are very rough in their language. I 
think it is due to some of our Army officers 
at the fort." lfi It was some time later that 
Director Hobby formulated the difficulty 
and told a group of women officers: 



It seems to me lately that I have seen too 
many women officers who are hard. The last 
thing we want to accomplish is to masculinize 
a great group of women. ... I think that 
[harshness] often comes from the officer's own 
insecurity. When she is at a loss how to han- 
dle a problem, she relies on what she thinks 
would be the Army attitude. Actually it is not 
an Army attitude among leaders. Only inse- 
cure persons revert to harshness. 17 

The "Nightmare" of Basic Training 

In these months many recruits used the 
word nightmare to describe basic training, 
although at earlier and later periods the 
same course was pronounced "inspiring." 
One recruit, an Army wife, noted that this 
definition was literal: "For months after I 
left there, I used to wake at night crying, 
dreaming I was back at Des Moines." 18 

The difficulty, insofar as it could be di- 
agnosed, appeared to lie chiefly in an 
overabrupt and deliberately harsh intro- 
duction to Army life. The early high state 
of training had been produced when re- 
cruits' ideas of membership in a military 
team had been more nearly met, with 
plentiful ceremonies and instruction in 
Army tradition which produced a lasting 
pride in military status regardless of what 
hardships followed. This system continued 
to be followed, by deliberate intent, at the 

™ (1) Memo, Dir WAAC for TIG, 1 3 Mar 43, sub: 
Request for Investigation, and atchd corresp. SPWA 
330.14, Folder, Daytona Beach, Dir Adm Serv ASF 
Sp Coll DRB AGO. (2) Memo, IG 4th SvC for CG 
4th SvC, 9 May 43, atchd as Exhibit B to Rpt, CIC to 
MIS, 19 Jul 43, sub: Origin of Rumors Concerning 
WAAC G-2 files MID 322.12 WAAC. (3) Also see 
( ph. XI| below. 

14 Memo, 1st O Anna W. Wilson for Chief WAAC 
Ping Serv, 1 1 Mar 43. SPWA 319.1 (3-1 1-43). 

is WAVES Hist 

16 Min cited In. 41 

" Speech at Stf Dirs Conf, New York, 1-3 Dec 43. 
Min cited In. 5(Tfl 

,a Diary of an Auxiliary, winter 1942-43, made 
available to the author in a personal interview, 31 
January 1946. 



PERSONNEL AND TRAINING 



141 



WAVES' training centers, with the first 
weeks devoted to inculcating a knowledge 
of Navy tradition and ceremony, and with 
only fully trained women graduates in- 
stead of recruits being used for the more 
menial tasks about the school. 

Gradual adjustment seemed even more 
necessary for female recruits than for male 
draftees, since the women were apt to be 
more uncertain about their ability to "take 
it," and had been subjected to the sales 
talks of recruiters who accented the glam- 
orous side of Army life. At a later period 
these facts were to be recognized by 
WAAC training authorities, but during 
the winter and spring of 1943 there was 
reported, at most training centers, an ini- 
tial emphasis on military "hazing" which, 
as one authority later noted, "tried to be- 
little a recruit's ideals, laugh at her pa- 
triotism, and make her a soldier in the first 
five minutes." 19 

Thus, one recruit's diary noted what 
other accounts confirmed as a typical ex- 
perience at Fort Des Moines: "I was sent 
out to scrub one of the offices on my first 
day, before I got my uniform." Emphasis 
on fatigue duties continued to take prece- 
dence over military indoctrination: 

We seldom got to attend classes regularly, 
as we were pulled off for all kinds of duties: 
we did KP at our own mess, the officers' mess, 
and the consolidated mess; we scrubbed 
classroom floors and the theater daily; we 
cleaned offices, orderly rooms, dayrooms, 
storerooms, cleaned the outside of buildings 
and washed the windows and the white pil- 
lars, though in zero weather. We hated to 
miss those classes as there was so much to 
learn in only four weeks. 20 

The absence of a uniform during much 
of the training period was also keenly felt, 
though to a less extent than the fact that 
"the men who drilled us and marched us 
through the snow had complete warm out- 
fits." The fact that almost all recruits at 



one time or another during training con- 
tracted colds and coughs, sometimes influ- 
enza or bronchitis, did little to increase 
their endurance. Even more lamented was 
the lack of drill and ceremony, which was 
prevented at some centers by the winter 
weather and lack of warm clothing, and 
at others by lack of space, by scattered 
housing, or by the necessity for pulling out 
half-trained women to meet the shipment 
schedule. 

Under these conditions, some women 
suffered breakdowns and had to be dis- 
charged before receiving a field assign- 
ment, in such numbers as later to cause 
investigation by The Surgeon General. 
For the majority, it was evident that sur- 
prisingly little permanent damage was 
done. The time of basic training was brief, 
the hoped-for military ceremonies were 
eventually encountered on Army stations, 
and in looking back from the vantage 
point of years, trainees were if anything 
inclined to boast about how they "took it." 
Morale was reported in even the most con- 
fused months of the expansion program as 
"unbelievably good," and "the women 
were excited about their work, determined 
to succeed, and felt that the worst would 
be over if they could only get to the field 
and to work." 

The women's generally good-humored 
reaction was fairly well expressed in their 
favorite songs, which grew up during these 
months: 22 

WAAC Days, WAAC Days, 

Dear old break-your-back days. . . . 



16 Speech by Lt Col Jess Rice, "Development of the 
WAC," at Sch of WAAC Pers Adm, Apr 45, notes in 
WAC files, OCMH. Aiso see bulky studies in SPWA 
331.1 (3-1-43), now in file of Dir Pers ASF. 

10 Diary r.ited ln. 18J 

21 Ibid. 

' rl Pamphlet, WAAC Parodies. The only song not 
from the pamphlet is "AR 35-1440," most of which 
is unprintable. 




KP DUTY, Daytona Beach, Florida. Note seersucker exercise dress. 



PERSONNEL AND TRAINING 



143 



When you come to the end of a perfect day, 
And you sit alone with your gigs. . . . 

K-K-K-Ka-P, beautiful KP, 
You're the only Army job that I abhor. 
When the moon shines over the mess hall, 
I'll be mopping up the K-K-K-Kitchen floor. 

Troublesome rules and regulations were 
memorized to the tune of ditties such as: 

AR 35-1440, 

Deals with matters very naughty. 

Running a close second to the earlier fa- 
vorite, "The WAAC Is In Back of You," 
was a new original at Des Moines, entitled 
the "G. I. Song": 23 

Once her Mommie made her bed, 
Cleaned her clothes and buttered her bread, 
And her favorite dress was red — 
Oh me, Oh my, that ain't G.I. 

Hats and shoes and skirts don't fit, 
Your girdle bunches when you sit, 
Come on, rookie, you can't quit — 
Just heave a sigh, and be G.I. . . . 

In the Mess Hall she now stands 
Buried 'neath the pots and pans 
Getting pretty dishpan hands, 
Oh me, Oh my, gotta be G.I. 

Then she came to camp one day, 
Quickly learned the WAACKIE way, 
Underwear cafe au lait — 
Oh me, Oh my, strictly G.I. 

Winter, summer, spring or fall 

Should you try to end it all 

You can't die until sick call 

You see, if you die, you gotta die — G.I. 

However, even among such lighthearted 
versions of school days, the final song was: 

We're in the Staging Area 
And we soon will go away 
We've finished all our basic 
Glory be and happy day 

Glory Glory we are staging 
Glory Glory we are staging 
Glory Glory we are staging 
Before we travel on. 



The more damaging aspect of the dis- 
locations to basic training during the 
months of expansion appeared to have 
been the effect upon recruiting. In the let- 
ters written to friends and relatives during 
the first week or weeks, there was noted, at 
worst, a frightened disillusionment or 
frantic desire to escape from what at first 
glance seemed a trap and, at best, a tend- 
ency to boast about the unspeakable hard- 
ships the writer had survived. The Army 
as a whole was not unfamiliar with such a 
phenomenon, which had little effect upon 
draft boards. British women's services had 
noted a less favorable public reaction, and 
that "The large majority adapt themselves 
in time . . . but a certain number, when 
writing home, may easily exagger- 
ate. . . ," 24 

Just how great a part the brief "night- 
mare" of basic training had played in the 
later failure of the recruiting program was 
never to be easy to determine. General 
Ulio, The Adjutant General, ascribed 
some importance, in a staff study made 
during these months, to "people writing 
home about . . . conditions." 25 Recruit- 
ers attributed damage especially to pub- 
licity on the prisoner-of-war camps, in 
which no male soldiers had been reported 
as required to train. Later Gallup surveys 
also showed that many acceptable recruits 
were allegedly deterred from enlistment 
by the belief that they lacked the neces- 
sary strength to survive the reputed rigors 
and hazings of basic training, 28 

It came to be the general belief within 
WAAC Headquarters that the echelon of 
the Training Command had been in itself 



23 Words and music by Lt. June Morhman. 
21 Conditions in t he Thre e Women's Services. 

Ulio rpt. lCh, Xl belo w. 
26 See Gallup rpt. Ph. XI III below. 



144 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



one of the less happy results of the expan- 
sion program. The Acting Deputy Direc- 
tor noted: 

We were completely cut off from the train- 
ing centers and could not even communicate 
with them; instead, we should have had di- 
rect telephonic communication all winter in 
order to find out their difficulties and expedite 
corrective action in supply, officer selection 
and training, and other matters. 27 

In March, Director Hobby petitioned the 
Services of Supply to abolish the echelon 
of the Training Command and restore its 
functions to her office, as well as General 
Faith in person, for its better assistance 
and information: 

The Training Plans Division [of WAAC 
Headquarters] has no authority and receives 
problems for decision which it is unable to 
give. In addition, it is uninformed on train- 
ing activities and programs. . . . Since the 
functions now being performed by the 
WAAC Training Command are properly 
headquarters functions, it is recommended 
that . . . the functions of the Training 
Command be absorbed as rapidly as possible 
in the appropriate organizational units of 
WAAC Headquarters. 28 

This request was disapproved by the 
Services of Supply, but some increase in 
effective liaison was achieved by moving 
the Training Command headquarters from 
Daytona Beach to Martinsburg, West Vir- 
ginia — a location as near to Washington 
as possible, and one removed from the 
scene of the scandal concerning malad- 
ministration at the Daytona Beach train- 
ing center. At the same time, General 
Faith was given additional duty as head of 
a new Training and Field Inspection Divi- 
sion in the Director's office, where he now 
spent part of his time. It was hoped that 
the field inspection function would pro- 
vide training centers with assistance and 
some guide to field needs. 28 



Personnel Problems in Headquarters 

Its loss of control over the training pro- 
gram was only one of the difficulties that 
expansion had brought to WAAC Head- 
quarters. The office still suffered from 
chronic understanding and overwork; since 
January it had been reported that "the 
pressing common problem throughout 
Headquarters is a shortage of competent 
dependable civilian help. Officers are do- 
ing clerical work." 30 

The Director, while supplying thou- 
sands of Waacs to the Army, was in the 
position of being unable to get a requested 
allotment of eleven for herself, because of 
the Services of Supply's rule against bring- 
ing enlisted Waacs to Washington. Finally, 
a few enlisted women were brought in on 
temporary duty, which prevented their 
promotion, and were soon also suffering 
from overwork, while the headquarters 
feared to let them go lest shipment orders 
remain untyped and "a tremendous back- 
log accumulate at Training Centers." 

Letters concerning individual Waacs 
were referred unanswered to their posts, 
and letters of inquiry from Army stations 
were answered without being seen by the 
Director or top authorities — a system that 
provoked much unfavorable comment 
from the public and the field, and resulted 
in vague or inaccurate routine replies from 
junior officers to inquiries which were 
really matters of policy. The volume of 
mail was clocked at an average of 406 



27 Interv with Lt Col Betty Bandcl, 5 Oct 45. 

28 Memo, CofS ASF for Dirs of Stf Divs and Chiefs, 
Sup and Adm Svs, 1 Mar 43; Dir WAAC's reply, 19 
Mar 43. SPWA 331.1. (3-1-43), located and read in 
Office Dir Pers ASF. 

29 TWX, Faith to Dir WAAC, 29 Jun 43. SPWA 
314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec 1. 

30 Memo, 1st O Anne Alinder for Contl Div 
WAAC, 6 Jan 43. WAAC files. 



PERSONNEL AND TRAINING 



145 



pieces daily. The stenographic pool in 
April had a ten-day backlog and was 
obliged to reject all but urgent work, while 
some 1,200 papers remained unfiled. In 
April, the headquarters petitioned the 
Service Forces for an increase of civilian 
personnel from 56 to 77, stating: "Neces- 
sary work is being delayed or left undone 
with the result that the WAAC program is 
being seriously impaired." 31 

The problems of an expanding organ- 
ization did not receive too much sympathy 
from the Army Service Forces, which had 
passed its own critical period and was at 
the moment engaged in a drive to reduce 
personnel. On 1 March WAAC Head- 
quarters, in common with all ASF offices, 
was required to report on steps taken to 
abolish nonessential functions and person- 
nel. The Director protested that reduc- 
tions could not safely be made at present, 
but that in a few months, if legislation 
passed, "it will be possible for WAAC 
Headquarters to avail itself of existing 
Army machinery for handling certain 
functions, which will permit dropping 
activities which parallel functions done 
elsewhere in the War Department." In 
this, she was overruled by General Styer, 
who indorsed the papers back with a de- 
mand for immediate reduction of the office 
force, stating: "You will submit a further 
report . . . [which] will list . . . the 
number of military and civilian personnel 
released." 33 

The Director took the occasion to point 
out that the January 1943 reorganization 
of her office by General Somervell's Con- 
trol Division, like that of October 1942, 
was unworkable. She indicated that there 
were friction and confusion among her 
Army section chiefs, with different section 
chiefs claiming the same projects. She 
therefore asked that authority be given 



her to redefine duties and regroup the sec- 
tions concerned according to her own 
ideas of office organization. There was also 
some discontent among the WAAC offi- 
cers who made up the junior working per- 
sonnel, in that male officers still retained 
key jobs and policy-making powers and 
did not allow WAAC officers to say any- 
thing in staff meetings that had not been 
written out and approved in advance, or 
otherwise to give the Director "stories of 
what is going wrong." 33 

In late April, Control Division, ASF, 
partially acceded to the Director's request 
and again revised the WAAC Headquar- 
ters organization — the third revision in 
seven months — changing the wording of 
the ASF Manual accordingly. A personnel 
increase was also briefly granted, but nulli- 
fied three weeks later, and a further cut 
ordered. 

The headquarters situation, during the 
entire time when the expansion program 
ran its course, therefore remained gener- 
ally critical. The only prospect of relief 
and improved efficiency was Army status, 
which did not come until the hope of 
recruiting success was ended. 34 



31 (1) Memo, Dir WAAC for IPD ASF, 2 Apr 43, 
sub: Civ Pers, and atchd. SPWA 230.14 (4-2-43). (2) 
Memo, Dir Adm Div for Chief, Opng Serv WAAC, 
3 1 Mar 43; Memo, Dir Adm Div for Dir of Opng 
Serv, 22 Jan 43. SPWA 311.1, 

32 Three studies: (1) Ltr, ASF to all Divs, SvCs, etc., 
1 Mar 43; Dir WAAC reply, 20 M ar 43; 1st Ind, CofS 
ASF, 10 Apr 43. (2) Memo cited ET"28l and 1st Ind, 
CofS ASF, 14 Apr 43. (3) Memo, CofS ASF for 
CofServs and SvCs, 1 Mar 43; Dir WAAC reply, 30 
Mar 43; 1st Ind, CofS ASF, 19 Apr 43; 2d Ind, Dir 
WAAC, 28 Apr 43. All in SPWA 333.1 (3-1-43), now 
in Dir Pers ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

■ 11 (1) WAAC SO 78, 22 Apr 43. SPWA 300.4 
(8-18-42), 1942. (2) Interv with Maj Elizabeth C. 
Smit h and M aj Irene Galloway, 1 1 Oct 45. (3) Interv 
cited |n. 27^ 



"ASF Cir 30, 15 May 43; also SOS Manual 
M301,Jul 43, par 202.03. 



146 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Shipment of T/ Units 

In the field, possibly the most serious 
publicly known personnel problem caused 
by the expansion program was in the mat- 
ter of job assignments. Again, the difficulty 
was not the expansion itself, but the fact 
that it was required before the end of the 
Auxiliary system. 

The separate WAAC Table of Organ- 
ization — which could not yet legally be 
merged with military job allotments — had 
proved in itself a disaster for the Corps. Al- 
though large Army Tables of Organization 
had vacancies for almost any variety of 
skill, the small 150-woman T/O had posi- 
tions for only a few general skills — chiefly 
office workers and chauffeurs. As recruit- 
ing restrictions were eased, recruits were 
accepted who had other and more varied 
skills. However, when a WAAC was re- 
cruited with some rare and badly needed 
skill, such as teacher of Braille, she could 
not be assigned as such because the WAAC 
allotment did not call for it. The WAAC 
T/O could not be amended to add the job 
without requiring every WAAC unit in 
the world to have a teacher of Braille. 

Under this system, the temptation for 
training centers to misclassify women was 
great. The teacher of Braille sat waiting 
assignment which could never be given 
her; a WAAC company could not be 
shipped until a mail clerk was found to 
complete its T/O; the teacher of Braille 
overnight became a mail clerk. Still worse, 
a Table of Organization could not be 
amended by a post commander; when the 
WAAC unit reached a station, the station 
was helpless to remedy the misclassifica- 
tion and was obliged to assign the Braille 
expert as a mail clerk, even though its hos- 
pital was badly in need of her skill and had 
a military vacancy for it. "Many of our 
stations faced this problem," reported Staff 



Director Jess Rice of the Third Service 
Command. 

The WAAC Table of Organization called 
for six housekeepers, so they fired the maids 
in the guest houses and put the Waacs to 
scrubbing floors, even though they might be 
doctors of philosophy, teachers, or techni- 
cians, who had been classified as housekeep- 
ers just to get them out of the Training 
Center. 35 

If training center classification teams 
rebelled at the dishonesty of falsifying 
such a woman's records and classified her 
properly, she could not be assigned at all. 
Training centers with such scruples grad- 
ually accumulated a number of women 
with more or less odd skills — dental hy- 
gienists, X-ray technicians, translators, 
key-punch operators, opticians, dietitians, 
and many others. These, although badly 
needed to fill military vacancies, could not 
be assigned in the WAAC T/O unless 
classified as unskilled. Training centers 
reported that these women were in a state 
of very low morale: many advised civilian 
friends that the Army could not use their 
skills; and some nervous individuals actu- 
ally became psychopathic cases, after 
months of delay and malassignment, and 
had to be discharged. 36 

Malassignment of skilled workers was, 
of course, well known to Army men in 
times of rapid expansion. The effect of 
malassignment on a woman, however, was 
often greater, because she could not re- 
ceive a combat assignment which might in 
her own eyes justify the waste of a special 
skill. The only reported cases in which 
malassignment caused no morale damage 
to Waacs were those instances in which a 

'•• Speech, "Hist of WAC," at WAC Pers Adm Sch, 
Purdue Univ. OCMH. 

3,5 (1) Memo, Classif and Asgmt Sec WAAC Hq for 
Sp Consultant to Dir, 7 Jun 43. SPWA 201.6 (6-7-43). 
(2) Rpt of WAA C Stf Dirs, 2d, 3d, and 4th TngCens. 
Min cited ln. 4~l 



PERSONNEL AND TRAINING 



147 



clerical or sedentary skill was ignored in 
favor of a field-type job, which most 
women were found to prefer. 

The whole WAAG training system was 
soon distorted to meet the rigid require- 
ments of the separate WAAC T/O. Exact 
calculations were made as to how many 
cooks, clerks, and chauffeurs would be 
needed in a certain number of companies, 
and the WAAC specialist schools were 
geared to turn out this number. Once the 
school quota was set, it became an inex- 
orable demand which had to be met 
weekly regardless of the qualifications of 
the new recruits who presented themselves 
that week. Thus, if in one week there were 
large numbers of typists, badly needed in 
the field, they must be divided into three 
parts, one for cooks and bakers school, one 
for motor transport school, and one for ad- 
ministrative school. If, a week later, the 
recruits were all skilled mechanics, they 
must nevertheless also be divided among 
the three schools. 

General Faith admitted later, "We ar- 
bitrarily tried to maintain a balance. 
Women who hated to cook were sent to 
Cooks School and women who couldn't 
spell were sent to Administrative 
School." " One Air Forces representative 
noted: 

We don't mean to complain of the classifi- 
cation at the Training Centers, but we re- 
ceived a unit of 76 from one of the centers and 
all 76 were supply clerks. When we inter- 
viewed . . . we found we had college grad- 
uates who had years of experience in hos- 
pitals or other jobs, and they had been sent to 
administrative schools to become supply 
clerks. 3S 

Expert stenographers had been trained as 
cooks, while former cotton pickers were 
graduates of Administrative Specialists 
School. Women had been sent to radio 
school who had not only hated radio work 



but also had medical or clerical skills. 39 
Airfields that requisitioned weather ob- 
servers got former waitresses classified as 
"potential weather observers." 4(1 

The War Department had for some 
time realized that the T/ O system, while 
appropriate for rifle companies and other 
identical combat units, was a poor means 
of supplying either men or women to zone 
of the interior stations, no two of which 
had exactly the same needs. The Bulk Al- 
lotment system, prepared during these 
same months, promised relief from the dis- 
tortion of both WAAC and Army skills to 
fit an inflexible Table of Organization. 

Both WAAC and Army allotments were 
eventually to specify only the numbers 
and grades of individuals sent to most 
noncombat commands, leaving their 
duties to be determined and requisitioned 
according to the needs of each station. 
Although WAAC Headquarters worked 
all spring to hasten the application of this 
system to the WAAC, such did not become 
possible until May. In late March Army 
commands were warned to prepare for the 
new system. For units already shipped, 
they were expected to prepare Tables of 
Allotment representing the women's real 
skills; for units yet to come, any desired 
assortment of skills could be requested. On 
1 May WAAC T/O units were formally 
inactivated, and Army commands were on 
their own in determining WAAC jobs 
within the limits of the total Bulk Allot- 
ments. 41 



Speech. Min cited 



38 Speec h of WAAC Stf Dir AAF Tng Comd. Min 
cited Tn7T~| 

39 Rpt of 2d SvC. Min ciledrjTT] 

40 Rpt of Insp, Great Falls AAB, Montana, 20 Aug 
43. SPWA 333.1. 

41 (1) WD Memo W635-3-43, 31 Mar 43. (2) Ltr, 
TAG to CG ASF (AGF, AAF), 1 Apr 43. AG 320.2 
WAAC (3-12-43) PR W WDGAP. 



148 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Replacement of Soldiers 

Even the Bulk Allotment system did not 
solve another problem that resulted from 
Auxiliary status, whether under a Table of 
Organization or a more flexible Table of 
Allotment: under either system it proved 
difficult to determine whether a Waac had 
really replaced a man. The General Staff 
sent out repeated injunctions that Waacs 
must count against the Troop Basis and 
replace men one-for-one; a series of in- 
creasingly stringent War Department di- 
rectives required a full report by skill and 
rank of men shipped, to be tallied against 
the number of Waacs received. Only 
thirty days — fifteen in the Army Service 
Forces — -were allowed for the replace- 
ment, a shorter time than customary with 
male replacements, on the theory that a 
Waac could learn a job faster. 

Nevertheless, it became increasingly 
evident that few men were actually being 
sent away, and might not be until the 
WAAC became part of the Army and its 
allotments could be merged with the mili- 
tary. Through a technicality of paper 
work, minor but basic, it was found that 
most Army posts were able to retain both 
Waacs and men. Each station had an al- 
lotment of military personnel and an allot- 
ment of civilian personnel; when Waacs 
arrived it had a third type, since each 
company came complete with its own 
Table of Organization or Allotment under 
which its members could be promoted and 
paid. Whether Waacs filled military or 
civilian jobs, all three allotments remained 
intact. All efforts, therefore, to get many 
posts to send a soldier away failed except 



on paper. A Waac might actually be given 
a man's desk and see the man depart, only 
later to find him at a new desk a few doors 
down the hall, in work for which the in- 
stallation often had a perfectly legitimate 
allotment. If the man actually departed, 
the station had a vacancy in its military 
allotment, and promptly requisitioned 
another man. So long as Waacs were not 
legally recognized as military personnel, 
and could not fill vacancies in military al- 
lotments, the General Staff directives con- 
cerning the Troop Basis remained admin- 
istratively impossible to enforce. 4 " 

The apparently simple solution of re- 
ducing a station's military allotment for 
each WAAC allotment, although directed 
by the General Staff, was also adminis- 
tratively unworkable. A station's allot- 
ments, whether in the form of Tables of 
Organization or the later Bulk Allot- 
ments, were complicated affairs which 
could not be altered at station level. To re- 
duce the allotment, it would be necessary 
to republish it each time a new WAAC 
unit arrived, or each time a Waac was pro- 
moted from one grade to another. The 
time lag in this process was such that, re- 
ports indicated, most stations would not 
apply to higher echelons for republication 
of their military allotments, but clung to 
both WAAC and Army personnel. Only 
approaching military status could entirely 
solve this problem, by making one mili- 
tary allotment apply to both men and 
women. 



>- (1) WD Memo W635-2-43, 10 Feb 43. (2) WD 
Memo W r 635-3-43, 31 Mar 43. (3) WD Memo 
W635-4-43, 31 Mar 43. (4) WD Memo W635-5-43, 
26 Apr 43. (5) ASF Cir 39, 1 1 Jun 43. 



CHAPTER IX 



Stresses of Rapid Build-up: 
Supply and the WAAC 
Uniform 



As was to be expected from past Army 
experiences, the difficulties of expansion 
were also felt immediately in the matter 
of supply. For the WAAC, supply prob- 
lems had been more or less chronic since 
the Corps' establishment, with crises fol- 
lowing each new expansion plan, none 
more than temporarily remedied. 

Shortages of Clothing 

Of these supply problems, the one most 
apparent to the public was the Corps' in- 
ability to issue even one set of military 
outer garments to recruits — a situation 
that rarely pertained to male draftees. As 
the Corps neared the end of its first winter, 
fully half of the women in some training 
centers still went through their entire 
training without uniforms, while at others 
only summer clothing was available. Fort 
Dix, New Jersey, for example, was sur- 
prised to see descending from a train — in 
the midst of a March snowstorm — the en- 
tire 42d WAAC Post Headquarters Com- 
pany from Daytona Beach, dressed in 
summer cottons. The women were 
promptly restricted to barracks and put to 
bed to keep warm, while Fort Dix for- 



warded comments derogatory to the in- 
telligence of WAAC authorities in train- 
ing centers. 1 One west coast airfield, ex- 
pecting a company, received a single un- 
tidy-looking Waac whose only clothing 
was the begrimed civilian outfit she had 
worn from her home to the training center 
and throughout basic training. After acid 
comment by telephone to Washington, 
one uniform was obtained. Other Waacs 
arrived with one or two shirts at desert air- 
fields where the daily temperature av- 
eraged 110 degrees. At other times stations 
complained that women had been given 
their complete clothing issue by a process 
of issuing them grotesquely ill-fitting gar- 
ments and, still worse, wrong-sized shoes, 
with the assurance that "you can change 
them when you get to your permanent sta- 
tion," even though the stations obviously 
had as yet no maintenance supplies of 
WAAC clothing. 1 

1 (1) TWX. Comdt 1st WAAC Tng Cen to Dir 
WAAC, 24 Dec 42. WA 421 (1 1-20-42) Status. (2) 
Ltr, 2d SvC to Dir WAAC, 9 Mar 43, sub: 42d 
WAAC Post Hq Co. SPWA 319.1. 

2 (1) AAF WAC Hist, p. 39. (2) Memo, Dir WAC 
for QMG, 30 Aug 43. SPWA 400.34 (3-21-42)(l) sec 
4 (1942). (3) Ltrs, WAAC Hq to field, 24 Feb 43, and 
replies; Memo, Lt Ryan for Ping Serv, 3 Apr 43. 
Same file, sec 3a. 



150 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Such failures were generally attributed 
by the public, and by WAAC trainees, to 
the numbers involved in the expansion 
program, or to the difficulty of procuring 
women's garments in an organization ac- 
customed to dealing only with men's. The 
latter view was at times held by WAAC 
Headquarters itself, which noted in one 
criticism of The Quartermaster General's 
action: "Two manufacturers of women's 
wear said . . . any one of fifty stores in 
the country supplied many more women 
with many more items." :i However, upon 
later analysis, shortages — as distinguished 
from defects in style — were seldom found 
to be due to Quartermaster inexperience 
or inability to let contracts for the rela- 
tively small numbers of women in the 
Army, but rather to simple failure to let 
WAAC contracts to manufacturers in 
time. This in turn was caused by the re- 
peated refusal of Requirements Division, 
Services of Supply, to approve The Quar- 
termaster General's proposals without 
lengthy delay and debate over possible 
discrimination in favor of women. At 
other times failures resulted, in The Quar- 
termaster General's opinion, from the 
Services of Supply's action in approving 
G-3's expansion plans without the concur- 
rence of supply agencies. 

Difficulties in this respect could be 
traced back to the moment, a few days 
after the passage of WAAC legislation, 
when WAAC Headquarters and The 
Quartermaster General completed and 
sent to Requirements Division for ap- 
proval the Table of Basic Allowances for 
winter clothing. Its approval was believed 
routine, since General Marshall had per- 
sonally viewed and approved every listed 
item at the time of the WAAC's establish- 
ment. Nevertheless, approval was not 
forthcoming, and upon inquiry it was 



found that Requirements Division took is- 
sue with the fact that women's military 
clothing, like their civilian clothing, was 
scheduled to cost more than men's. A 
Waac's outfit would cost $177.45 as 
against SI 02.33 for a man's. In its efforts 
to equalize the total costs, Requirements 
Division noted that, whereas men received 
only one overcoat, women were scheduled 
to get two — the heavy winter coat like the 
men's and the light waterproof utility coat 
instead of the men's field jacket. Require- 
ments Division at once determined to save 
$15.00 per woman by deleting the utility 
coat. 

Director Hobby, when informed, 
pointed out that Requirements Division's 
action had been taken in ignorance of the 
previous months of planning on the 
WAAC uniform, in which the whole out- 
fit had been keyed to the two coats. Thus, 
women's winter uniforms and underwear 
were of a lighter weight than men's, and 
women were not given either wool shirts 
or field jackets. The heavy overcoat was 
too warm for wear in spring and fall, and 
she felt that sickness would result if women 
faced those seasons with only cotton shirts 
and light covert cloth uniforms. The 
Quartermaster General sided with the Di- 
rector, pointing out that no saving would 
result from the deletion, since one utility 
coat and one overcoat would wear as long 
as two of the more expensive overcoats, 
while a utility coat would protect the over- 
coat from rough wear in rain, mud, and 
motor convoys. The Chief of Administra- 
tive Services, General Grunert, likewise 
backed the Director in her arguments. 4 
Requirements Division nevertheless re- 

3 MS Draft, The WAAC— Its Mission, 6 Apr 43. 
Folder, Ping Serv Notes, WAAC Planning files. 

Memo, CofAdm Serv for Reqmls Div SOS, 25 
Jun 42. Same file. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



151 



fused to restore the item: "Statement as to 
possible increase in sickness may be ques- 
tioned. On a cold winter day, it is a com- 
mon sight to see women dressed in light 
weight clothing, including silk stockings 
and light shoes, while men are clothed in 
heavy wool garments." 5 

For five weeks the matter remained 
deadlocked. The Philadelphia Depot tele- 
phoned to state, "The girls will freeze this 
winter," 6 and wrote, "The time has 
passed when they may elect the fabric 
they desire and must take that which is 
available." 7 Director Hobby twice more 
protested the refusal to approve her re- 
quests. 

At the end of July, with Waacs already 
at Des Moines, The Quartermaster Gen- 
eral's Office (OQMG) had still received 
no procurement authority for either coat, 
and in desperation telephoned Director 
Hobby to ask that she put "a lot of pres- 
sure" on Requirements Division. This feat 
she believed to be militarily impossible 
since Requirements Division was on a 
higher SOS echelon than her office and 
was headed by a major general. The Di- 
rector stated, "It's going to be a tragedy," 
to which the OQMG representative 
added: "And we don't want to be respon- 
sible for it. I know damn well that we will 
be blamed for it if the things aren't avail- 
able. And these people that sit up there 
and can't make up their minds are going 
to crucify us, and I don't like it. . . . God 
Almighty, they are grown people!" 8 

What happened next was not recorded, 
but two days later Requirements Division, 
SOS, agreed to permit the procurement 
of both coats. There was some indication 
that the matter had not previously 
reached a high echelon in the Require- 
ments Division. 9 At all events, it was ad- 
mitted that the delay in letting contracts 



was already irreparable; 10 there shortly 
ensued the September and October sup- 
ply debacle at Des Moines, with its accom- 
panying high sick rates and adverse 
publicity. 

Nevertheless, when increased expansion 
plans were adopted in September of 1942, 
the same situation arose again. In explain- 
ing his inability to supply uniforms to 
either Des Moines or Daytona Beach in 
November and December, as promised, 
The Quartermaster General stated that 
Requirements Division had again delayed 
letting of uniform contracts for six weeks, 
for unexplained reasons. In addition, it 
proved impossible for The Quartermaster 
General to get from the Services of Supply 
authority to procure emergency cold- 
weather items to make up the deficit. The 
climate at Des Moines by this time had 
proved such that, even had full winter 
uniforms been available, additional arctic- 
type clothing would have been needed for 
outdoor workers and for all who had to 
march or walk across the extensive post. 
Temperatures of from zero to 20 degrees 
below were not uncommon, and a foot or 
more of snow often covered the parade 
ground. 

On 3 November 1942, the newly ap- 
pointed commandant, Colonel Hoag, 
wired: due to severe climatic condi- 

( 1 ) Memo, Dir WAAC for Reqmis Div SOS, 25 
Jun 42; (2) Memo, Reqmts Div SOS for Dir WAAC, 
2 Jul 42. SPWA 400.34 (3-21-42)(l) sec 1. 

6 Memo, OQMG for Dir WAAC, 20 Sep 42. 
SPQRP 421-C. Copy in SPWA 421 (9-30-42). 

7 Risch, Wardrobe for Women of the Army, p. 67. 

8 Tp Conv, Col Hugh B. Hester, OQMG, and Dir 
WAAC, 20 Jul 42. SPWA 400.34 (3-21-42)(l) sec 1. 

<• Memo, Reqmts Div SOS for Dir WAAC, 2 Aug 
42. SPWA 400.34 (1943). The memorandum says only 
that the Director, Requirements Division, SOS di- 
rected its Allowance Branch, the contending party, to 
change its stand. 

10 Risch. Wardrobe for Women of the Army, pp. 70, 
82-85. 



152 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



TIONS, FOLLOWING ITEMS WAAC CLOTHING 
URGENTLY NEEDED TO PROPERLY PROTECT 
AND SAFEGUARD HEALTH OF THIS COMMAND. 

He asked for over 15,000 each of four- 
buckle arctic overshoes, nurses' lambskin- 
lined mittens, and wool-lined trousers, 
and concluded: it is imperative that the 

SUPPLY OF THESE BE EXPEDITED. 11 A few 

days later Colonel Hoag appealed again 
by letter, asking for wool socks, caps, 
shirts, and trousers, also mittens, wool un- 
derwear, and overshoes; for drivers, he 
asked for flannel-lined coveralls to replace 
the cotton ones. 12 

In Director Hobby's absence in Eng- 
land during this month, Colonel Catron 
immediately appealed to Distribution Di- 
vision, Services of Supply, for orders to 
ship emergency cold-weather items. Some 
debate then took place between Distribu- 
tion Division and Requirements Division. 
Distribution Division felt that action on 
the radio request should not be delayed 
but that the whole problem must be ap- 
proached more deliberately: 

With reference to the broad problem posed 
by basic radio, this division has noted nu- 
merous requests initiated, piecemeal, by the 
Women's Army Auxiliary Corps for the 
adoption of additional items of clothing. . . . 
It is recommended that caution be observed 
in authorizing any special procurement to as- 
sure the adequacy of items hurriedly re- 
quested to fill the requirement for which in- 
tended. This division has no information as 
to the adequacy of the trousers desired, nor 
as to the suitability of the Arctic overshoes re- 
quested for wear with shoes issued to the 
WAAC. 13 

As a result, no decisive action was taken 
except to schedule a conference for 25 No- 
vember, some two weeks away. 

The Quartermaster General also was 
unable to take action, and in fact was in a 
state of rebellion against the repeated ex- 
pansion directives his office had been re- 



ceiving. It was his opinion that the War 
Department supply agencies that agreed 
to G-3's expansion program — particularly 
Requirements Division — had not co-ordi- 
nated the matter fully enough with their 
operating agencies. 

OQMG, which had requested twelve 
months' notice of expansion plans, now 
was lucky to get twelve minutes, so rapidly 
did the WAAC estimates go up. The 
Quartermaster history of women's cloth- 
ing stated: "Army Service Forces did its 
planning at much too short range, without 
admitting the necessity for stock-piling 
cloth. . . ." Admittedly OQMG was kept 
fully informed, often by telephone, of the 
latest developments, but no sooner did it 
complete plans and let contracts than the 
figures were again raised. The figures fur- 
nished The Quartermaster General had 
increased within a few months from a 
March 1942 estimate of 12,000 in a year 
to later estimates of 53,000 for 1943; then 
1 13,000; then 150,000; then half a million, 
although the last figure was not used for 
procurement purposes. As a Quartermas- 
ter historian later remarked, "The con- 
sternation this created can be imag- 
ined." 14 

Accordingly, an OQMG council was 
held in November of 1942, at which it was 
stated that no increased supply of winter 
uniforms could be procured and no cold- 
weather or arctic equipment, unless the 
office was given twelve months from date 
of notice if cloth must be bought, or six 
months if the items could be procured 
ready-made. This was the time customar- 
ily allowed for the procurement of men's 

11 TWX~Comdt 1st WAAC Tng Cen to Dir 
WAAC, 3 Nov 42. SPWA 420. 

12 Ltr, Col Hoag to Dir WAAC, 9 Nov 42. SPQ 
420, in SPWA 400.34 (3-21-+2)(l) sec 1. 

1;! Covering Memo and Inds to TWX cited n. 11. 
14 Risch, Wardrobe for Women of the Army, pp. 5. 6. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



153 



clothing and equipment. This recom- 
mendation was approved by the Services 
of Supply's Chief of Staff, General Styer, 
in ignorance of the fact that the women 
were already at Des Moines. 1 " 1 

Upon Director Hobby's return from 
England in mid-November and her 
threatened resignation, General Styer 
shortly reversed this policy and directed 
The Quartermaster General to get 2,000 
winter uniforms to Des Moines at once 
and 1,000 a week thereafter, regardless of 
his twelve months' notice. General Styer's 
immediate subordinate, the assistant chief 
of staff for operations — Maj. Gen. LeRoy 
Lutes — then directed The Quartermaster 
General to procure at once 2,500 wool- 
lined trousers, 2,500 wool shirts, and 2,000 
pairs of gloves for WAAC motor transport 
personnel. General Lutes' immediate sub- 
ordinate, the director of Requirements Di- 
vision — Brig. Gen. Walter A. Wood, Jr. — 
also directed the Quartermaster Corps to 
procure 17,700 wool caps and wool gloves 
and 2,574 more overshoes, and to take ac- 
tion to standardize necessary articles for 
winter wear. 16 

To achieve this increase without divert- 
ing standard material from men's uni- 
forms, the Philadelphia Depot was obliged 
to gather up various odd lots of different 
colored woolen materials which were then 
in the depot, and to have them redyed to 
the enlisted shade. These inevitably came 
out in a wide range of nonstandard colors. 
One branch of OQMG directed that some 
skirts, some jackets, and some caps be 
made in each shade, so that a woman 
might receive a complete matching outfit 
even if she did not match her neighbors. 
Since this would have caused administra- 
tive difficulty for the depot, another 
branch of OQMG canceled this order 
without the knowledge of the branch that 



had issued it. As a result, skirts and jackets 
were of different shades and it was impos- 
sible to match them. Observed a Quarter- 
master historian: "The most grotesque 
combination was that of the chocolate- 
brown barathea and the mustard shade 
olive-drab." 17 From the viewpoint of the 
Recruiting Service, these uniforms were 
worse than the shortages, but they were at 
least warm. 

To avoid such hasty procurement in the 
future, The Quartermaster General again 
recommended that his office be given 
twelve months' notice on any further in- 
creases, saying: 

Experience indicates that it has required 
approximately twelve months from the initia- 
tion of procurement of cloth required for 
WAAC uniforms until the finished article is 
ready for issue. 

WAAC Headquarters again professed its 
helplessness to give such notice: 

Since the passage of the bill creating the 
WAAC, four (4) distinct expansion plans 
have been ordered by higher authority. In 
each instance the plan was ordered into op- 
eration immediately, and The Quartermas- 
ter General was given the proposed figures 
without delay. 

Accordingly, the Services of Supply was 
forced in December of 1942 to give The 
Quartermaster General procurement au- 
thorization in advance of the General Staff 
decision on the Corps' future size, stating 
that the clothing could be used for main- 

Memo, CofS SOS for CofAdm Serv, 19 Nov 42. 
SPEX, SPWA 421 (11-19-42), 

,fi (1) Interv with Lt Col Helen Woods, 9 Oct 48. 
(2) Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Scrv, 15-21 
Nov 42. SPWA 319.12 (1 1-9-42) sec 1. (3) Memo, 
ACofS Opns SOS for QMG, 27 Nov 42. SPDDQ420 
Clothing, in SPW r A 421 (1 1-27-42). (4) 1st Ind, 
Reqmts Div SOS (Gen Wood) to QMG, 3 Dec 42. 
SPRMD 421 (1 1-26-42), in WA 400.34. 

17 Risch, Wardrobe for Women of the Army , p. 51, ns. 
95, 97. 



154 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



tenance stocks if the expected draft of 
women did not occur. The enormous 
amounts of 400,000 by the end of 1943 
and 750,000 by June of 1944 were au- 
thorized, in the expectation that the plan 
for a draft law to obtain those numbers 
would be approved. In the light of future 
events, it was perhaps fortunate that the 
paper was recalled, and that it was de- 
cided to await the General Staff decision 
on draft plans. 18 

In spite of General Styer's intervention 
in November, there could be no imme- 
diate improvement in the supply of uni- 
forms since the procurement process had 
been long delayed. On Christmas Eve 
Colonel Hoag again telegraphed from Des 
Moines, reporting many items exhausted, 
all stocks low. At Daytona Beach, which 
opened in December, only summer uni- 
forms were available for most of the win- 
ter. Trainees were necessarily shipped out 
in summer khaki, regardless of destina- 
tion. The Third WAAC Training Center, 
at Fort Oglethorpe, opening in January, 
reported that many women went through 
their entire training without uniforms; at 
the same time, the rate of respiratory dis- 
orders soared to twice that of men in the 
area. Graduates were at first held idle in 
staging areas. The previous shipment of 
women in civilian clothes to the Aircraft 
Warning Service had had such an adverse 
effect upon recruiting that Director 
Hobby had issued a ban on further ship- 
ments not properly uniformed. Over- 
crowded conditions in the staging com- 
panies soon forced repeal of this order, and 
a report from Fort Oglethorpe noted that 
"Fifty percent of personnel departing this 
station during the week of March 21-28 
will not be uniformed." 19 

In early March WAAC Headquarters 
was informed that it was impossible for 



The Quartermaster General to meet the 
supply schedule furnished by Require- 
ments Division at the time of G-3's Feb- 
ruary decisions on Corps' size. As a result, 
the Fourth WAAC Training Center was 
scheduled to open in the still-wintry Mas- 
sachusetts weather without any clothing 
supplies whatever. 

At this, the Director sent her chief of 
operations, Colonel Clark, to the training 
centers to determine the actual situation. 
Upon his return Colonel Clark directed 
sharp criticism toward the Army Service 
Forces' supply agencies. There had been 
minor administrative faults at the training 
centers, Colonel Clark reported, such as 
occasional failure to establish close co- 
operation with depots or to utilize stock 
fully. Thus, the Atlanta Quartermaster 
Depot had shipped items to Daytona 
Beach that were needed at Fort Ogle- 
thorpe, and vice versa, and Quartermaster 
had refused to exchange them: 

He objected strenuously on the grounds 
that such action would confuse his records. 
My reaction to that is that records can always 
be straightened out but a death from pneu- 
monia due to improper clothing can hardly 
be laughed off. 

In spite of such occasional administrative 
faults, Colonel Clark concluded emphati- 
cally that fully 80 percent of the difficul- 
ties could be traced to insufficiency of 
production rather than of administration. 
He recommended that proper authority 
assure that individual contractors were on 
time, that surplus men's material "known 
to be available in abundance" be used, 

18 Memo, Dir Reqmts Div SOS for CofAdm Serv, 
26 Nov 42, and Inds dated 5, 2 1, 27 Dec 42 and 1 2 
Jan 43. SPRMP 291.9 WAAC, in Dir Adm Serv ASF 
Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

19 (1) Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 
14-24 Mar 43. SPWA 319.12. (2) Ltr, 3d Tng Cen to 
Dir WAAC, 20 Mar 43. WA 421 (1942). 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



155 



"that a determined inquiry be made at 
once to ascertain why certain articles are, 
and have been, habitually lacking over a 
period of months, and that steps be taken 
to remedy this deficiency." 20 

In reply to Colonel Clark's report, The 
Quartermaster General stated that WAAC 
supply had been "expedited in every man- 
ner"; "contractors are well ahead"; "this 
office, in supervising and directing the 
procurement of WAAC clothing through 
the procuring depot, has taken every ac- 
tion possible to eliminate delinquencies on 
current contracts." 21 This view was sup- 
ported by General Madison Pearson, 
Deputy Chief of Administrative Services, 
SOS, who wrote, "The report of action 
taken by The Quartermaster General in- 
dicates that everything possible is being 
done to expedite the manufacture and 
shipment of clothing." 22 

Finally, representatives of WAAC 
Headquarters, in a meeting at OQMG, 
secured promise of makeshift action to 
supply the Fourth Training Center. A 
sufficient quantity of Civilian Conserva- 
tion Corps spruce-green mackinaws were 
made available; trainees were issued Army 
officers' serge shirts in lieu of winter jack- 
ets; and 20,000 more off-shade skirts were 
procured, also shoes and raincoats. The 
Fifth Training Center, at Camps Ruston 
and Polk in Louisiana and Monticello in 
Arkansas, could fortunately get along with 
summer khaki. The Quartermaster Gen- 
eral, said a WAAC representative, was 
"most sympathetic and cooperative." 

The Quartermaster General now de- 
cided that the matter of supplying the 
WAAC warranted the full-time special- 
ized attention of one officer, and a WAAC 
officer was assigned to his office to work on 
the problem. Such an assignment had not 
been possible previously because of Gen- 



eral Somervell's order that no WAAC 
officers would be assigned to any office 
within his headquarters other than that of 
the Director WAAC. 23 

If the supply of uniforms to training 
centers was insufficient, that to field sta- 
tions was virtually nonexistent. Army sup- 
ply officers at these stations often were 
uncertain what the WAAC supply chan- 
nel was or what depots stocked WAAC 
clothing, and they had no copies of the 
WAAC T/BA, T/E, and T/O, which 
were apparently not available at training 
centers or in the field. Even if requisitions 
were properly submitted, it took over a 
month to get them filled from the two 
depots — Kansas City and Atlanta — that 
stocked WAAC uniforms. Sometimes the 
requisitions were never filled, and the wait 
for shoes was often two or three months. 
As late as 15 March a service command 
which had administered WAAC units for 
seven months was told that there was still 
no schedule set up for maintenance allow- 
ances for Waacs at posts, camps, and sta- 
tions, and that none could be set up until 
sufficient quantities of clothing were avail- 
able for new recruits. 24 

Appearance of the Uniform 

In addition to exaggerating shortages, 
the expansion program had permanently 

-° Memo, Chief, Opns Serv WAAC, for Exec 
WAAC, 6 Mar 43. SPWA 421 (11-20-42) 1942. 

21 Memo, QMG for WAAC Hq, 10 Mar 43. SPWA 
421 (1942). 

22 Memo, DCofAdm Serv for Dir WAAC, 13 Mar 
43. Same file. 

- 1 Memo, Chief, Opns Serv WAAC for Dir WAAC, 
23 Mar 43. WA 421 (1942). For Somervell order, see 
pp. 94-95, above. 

24 ( 1) Ltr, OQMG to field, 23 Sep 42. SPQX 420. 
(2) Ltr, 8 Dec 42, sub: same. SPWA 421 (5-16-42) 
sec 1. (3) Memo, 1st Tng Cen for WAAC Hq, 29 Oct 
42. SPWA 421. (4) Ltr, 1st SvC to Dir WAAC, 15 
Mar 43. SPWA 400.34 (3-21-42)(l) sec 3. 



156 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



affected the appearance of the WAAC 
uniform, by making correction of early 
mistakes impossible before mass produc- 
tion was required. For every amateur 
theorist who supposed that any other 
cause had damaged WAAC recruiting, 
there were ten who put the blame on the 
appearance of the uniform. Some nine out 
of ten of the unsolicited letters of advice 
received by the WAAC went so far as to 
place sole responsibility upon this one 
factor. 

Actually, OQMG had been well aware 
from the moment uniforms were issued 
that many items of clothing needed modi- 
fication, and plans for such modification 
were being made when the need for im- 
mediate mass production intervened. The 
Quartermaster General, soon after the 
opening of the First WAAC Training Cen- 
ter, sent to Des Moines an expert commit- 
tee which included a representative of the 
Philadelphia Depot and a civilian con- 
sultant, Miss Dorothy Shaver, vice-presi- 
dent of Lord & Taylor. These catalogued 
various complaints, and Colonel Faith 
reported others. All garments were cut 
with wide collars and narrow hips, as for 
men; skirts, shirts, and jackets were for this 
reason generally ill fitting, uncomfortable, 
and unbecoming to the average woman. 
Hats were out of shape before they were 
issued; raincoats leaked at every seam in 
even a light shower; seams of hems were 
sewed down so that they could not be 
easily raised or lowered, and some gar- 
ments had no hems at all. The suspenders 
on girdles were too short and pulled runs 
in stockings, as the War Production Board 
had allotted insufficient elastic. 25 

The attempt to discover the reason for 
the poor appearance of what had been a 
basically sound uniform design revealed 
that the Philadelphia Depot had never 



made a graded designers' model of the 
uniform, but had somehow got hold of a 
rough pattern cut by a manufacturer to 
estimate the cloth needed. This the depot 
had henceforth called "the master pat- 
tern," and from it each manufacturer had 
developed a set of sized patterns of his 
own. Those manufacturers who received 
contracts were all in the men's-wear in- 
dustry, since, The Quartermaster General 
reported, "The manufacturers of women's 
clothing were not able to handle the pro- 
duction of WAAC uniforms at the prices 
which the Philadelphia Depot was willing 
to pay." Moreover, winter uniforms had 
already been made upon the defective 
patterns used for the summer ones. 

For the poor results obtained, the Phila- 
delphia Depot blamed The Quartermas- 
ter General for failing to consult it earlier, 
thus giving it insufficient time for develop- 
ment of patterns. Further developmental 
work was therefore relinquished to the 
depot so that it might not be hampered. 
A new jacket was developed, with a bet- 
ter-fitting collar. It had no belt, as the 
women had shown a tendency to pull the 
belt too tight. Unfortunately, the depot, in 
omitting the belt, respaced the jacket but- 
tons so that the bottom one fell quite low; 
it was now impossible for a Waac to sit 
down without unbuttoning the lowest 
jacket button or suffering what Director 
Hobby described as an "unsightly gap." 
Since large quantities had been acquired, 
The Quartermaster General refused to 
correct the spacing. The new jacket, as 
turned out by the men's garment contrac- 
tors, was also too flat across the bust and 
still too stiff and awkward. 

25 (1) Rpt, 20 Oct 42. SPWA 421. (2) Ltr, Faith to 
Dir WAAC, 12 Aug 42. SPWA 421 (8-22-42). (3) 
Risch, Wardrobe for Women of the Army, Ch. IV. The 
following paragraphs, unless otherwise stated, are 
based on Risch, especially pages 40-47 and 61-63. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



157 




WAAC BAND, Fort Des Moines. 



The skirt pattern also was modified to 
round the hipline somewhat and to pre- 
vent wrinkling and rolling. The summer 
material was too stiff to permit insertion 
of a pleat, even if War Production Board 
rules would have allowed it. The 8.2- 
ounce cotton twill used in men's uniforms 
had admittedly proved totally unsatisfac- 
tory for women's; OQMG now tried to 
devise some other suitable summer mate- 
rial which would withstand laundering in 
Quartermaster laundries, but various cot- 
ton-rayon combinations all proved doubt- 
ful. Seersucker was dropped from consid- 
eration because it would have required a 
new uniform design and because of a 
shortage of production facilities, although 
the WAVES, SPARS, and women Marines 
all found an adequate supply for summer 
uniforms. Finally, it was decided that the 
khaki uniforms must be retained. 

Until the spring of 1943, both the Di- 
rector WAAC and The Quartermaster 



General found themselves in the position 
of helpless bystanders, able only to make 
suggestions, which were accepted by the 
Philadelphia Depot but never seemed to 
appear in the finished garments. In May, 
OQMG discovered the cause — the depot 
was frequently ignoring its recommenda- 
tions, and for six months had not made all 
the requested corrections, nor had it ever 
placed the pattern in the hands of a good 
tailor of women's clothing, which it had 
been directed to do. 

The Quartermaster General now took 
back some control over developmental 
work and, at the request of WAAC Head- 
quarters, called in representatives of four 
leading clothing firms and expert design- 
ers of women's patterns. 26 These immedi- 
ately discarded the Army sizes, which had 
been set up in long, regular, and short, as 

26 M/R, 1 9 May 43, Min of Mtg, and atchd Memo, 
ASF for OQMG, sub: Summer Uniforms, WAAC. 
SPWA421 (1942). 



158 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



for men. Now at last patterns in the usual 
women's sizes were developed — half sizes, 
misses', women's, and long sizes. These 
proved better, but the Quartermaster's 
Storage and Distribution Division insisted 
that the old size designations and stock 
numbers be used on the new patterns, to 
avoid complicating its storage and issue 
system, which was geared to handle only 
short, regular, and long. 

Even with improved patterns, the jack- 
ets still remained stiff and unbecoming, 
and it was not until some months later 
that OQMG detected the trouble: the 
Philadelphia Depot was still writing speci- 
fications, which manufacturers were re- 
quired to follow, that called for the use of 
the same heavy construction with can- 
vasses and interlinings of the weights used 
in men's uniforms. 

In late 1943 and 1944 a satisfactory uni- 
form pattern was to be gradually devel- 
oped, but its production by this time was, 
as The Quartermaster General said, now 
merely a matter of academic interest, as 
large stocks of the earlier patterns had 
been ordered in an effort to meet the 
scheduled expansion program, and no 
new procurement could be authorized 
until these were worn out. 

At first sight of the original ill-fitting 
uniforms, Director Hobby in July 1942 
had recommended to Requirements Divi- 
sion, SOS, that Waacs going to the field or 
on leave be allowed to purchase individ- 
ually tailored white dress uniforms, at 
their own expense, as were male Army 
officers, Army nurses, and, later, the Navy 
women's services. It was believed that 
such a measure would eliminate the worst 
of the general criticism encountered ear- 
lier, since the dress uniform could be worn 
for public ceremonies and appearances. 

Requirements Division disapproved this 



request: "No useful purpose can be served 
in connection with efforts toward a suc- 
cessful prosecution of the war." 27 Three 
subsequent requests by the Director to 
General Marshall were stopped by the 
Services of Supply from reaching him, and 
the WAAC was not authorized a dress 
uniform until later entry into the Army 
automatically gave it to women officers. 

The appearance of the WAAC cap was 
also much criticized. It was worked over 
by experts — the visor was made twice as 
thick and heavy, to prevent buckling; the 
side and top stiffening was increased; a 
new type of lining was devised. Still the 
cap remained almost impossible to clean 
and block. Director Hobby in January 
1943 finally gave up the idea of a distinc- 
tive cap and requested a garrison (over- 
seas) cap for all but dress wear. The Direc- 
tor pointed out that winter and summer 
garrison caps at a cost of 71 cents and 39 
cents respectively would eliminate the 
need for issue of extra visored caps at 
$2.32 and $1.99 apiece. This request was 
refused by the Services of Supply on the 
grounds that it would increase the num- 
ber of issued items. Although men got both 
dress and service caps, it was at the time 
believed that the War Department was 
shortly to cease issuing the garrison cap to 
men.' 28 

The WAAC shirtwaist was also the sub- 
ject of dispute, and more than one Army 
man reported, quite accurately, "I never 
yet saw a WAAC whose shirt collar fit 
her." Commercial producers of women's 
shirts had always sized them by bust sizes 
rather than by collar size, since civilian 

27 (1) Memo, OQMG for G-l, 18 Jul 42, with Inds 
and covering Memos; (2) Memo, Dir WAAC for 
GofAdm Scrv, 24 Aug 42, and Inds. SPQRE 421, in 
SPWA 421 (7-16-42). 

2S Memo, WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 20 Jan 43, 
and Inds. SPWA 421. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



159 



women's blouses seldom had a standing 
collar and tie and therefore did not re- 
quire exact collar measurements. Men's 
shirts, on the other hand, were sized by 
neck and sleeve measurements. 

The Quartermaster General now per- 
ceived that women's military shirts should 
have been sized like men's, but the shirt 
contracts had been let to manufacturers of 
women's garments, who were unable to 
produce men's-type shirts with a standing 
collarband and graded neck and sleeves. 
To cancel their contracts and let new ones 
would have caused a serious delay; it was 
therefore decided to retain the convertible 
collar and the original sizing system. Sev- 
eral sleeve lengths for each size were rec- 
ommended, but the Quartermaster Stor- 
age and Distribution Division would not 
concur, because of the "extra work this 
would entail" in storing and shipping 
several types of shirts. 

One difficulty was solved, however: The 
Quartermaster General discovered that 
the Philadelphia Depot had again been 
guilty of furnishing manufacturers a basic 
pattern cut by makers of men's shirts. A 
new pattern was devised with a collar that 
was smaller than the previous one and a 
bust that was larger, and this proved fairly 
satisfactory. Again, large purchases of the 
defective pattern had been made and had 
to be issued throughout 1943 and 1944, 
and complaints about the shirt never 
ceased to come in. 

The problem of providing satisfactory 
government-issue shoes for women had 
from the beginning been difficult to solve 
so as to please everyone. The Director's 
Office made surveys of the women's opin- 
ions as to various types of shoes and found 
that there was a dissatisfied minority for 
any type. Medical opinion also was di- 
vided. One school of thought recom- 



mended a flat-heeled shoe like the men's 
for all purposes, pointing out that most 
orthopedic patients in WAAC training 
center hospitals suffered from sprains and 
fractures caused by marching or doing 
heavy work in the medium-heeled oxfords. 
Other experts said that, on the contrary, 
a sudden change to flat heels for constant 
wear would cause even greater foot trou- 
ble and fallen arches for the majority of 
American women. The dispute was re- 
solved by the adoption of the nurses' high- 
laced flat-heeled field boot for outdoor 
work and marching and the service oxford 
for office and dress. Even for this limited 
use, the field boot had to be broken in by 
an elaborate routine involving heavy wool 
anklets and ten-minute daily wearings. 
The Director therefore recommended that 
the women get one pair of these field shoes 
in addition to the two pairs of ordinary 
shoes. 

This request was refused by the Army 
Service Forces: men got only two pairs, 
both of course flat-heeled, so women could 
have only two — one of oxfords and one of 
field shoes. The Director appealed again, 
pointing out that in such case a woman 
could not let her service oxfords be sent 
away for repair, since repair of women's 
shoes proved to be always slower than that 
of men's and ordinarily took from two 
weeks to a month, a prohibitive length of 
time to be without shoes for office wear. 
Finally, after the Director wrote a memo- 
randum on the subject to General Somer- 
vell, the ASF agreed to issue Waacs three 
pairs of shoes — two of oxfords and one of 
field shoes for office workers, one of oxfords 
and two of field shoes for outdoor 
workers. 20 

-* (1) Request, Dir WAAC 10 OQMG, for field 
shoes, 4 Sep 42; (2) Rpt on test of 500 WAAC ox- 
fords, 14 Nov 42; (3) Ltr, Surg, Ft Oglethorpe-., to Dir 




VOU'u JUST VtAvF To G^T u^D To uOu>- 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



161 



The WAAC utility bag had likewise 
proved unsatisfactory. The cheap imita- 
tion leather adopted by the economy- 
minded Quartermaster General almost at 
once cracked and peeled. The Director 
then presented him with a leather bag de- 
signed by Richard Koret, and requested 
its adoption. Mourned a Quartermaster 
historian: "It was apparently immaterial 
that the bag was expensive and that it 
used calfskin leather, a critical material." 30 
This sample was delivered to the Philadel- 
phia Depot, which immediately let the 
contract to such low-priced manufacturers 
that the resulting bag was unrecognizable 
and quickly wore out. Finally, OQMG 
announced with pleasure that it had lo- 
cated a quantity of seal leather, tanned 
goatskin, and genuine water buffalo. These 
were durable and noncritical materials, 
and an excellent utility bag resulted. 

The Navy avoided most clothing diffi- 
culties by giving its Waves a clothing al- 
lowance with which to purchase uniforms. 
Various commercial firms produced the 
uniforms, apparently without any of the 
Philadelphia Depot's misfortunes, and 
sold them through department stores 
which gave expert fitting. Shoes and other 
personal items could thus be chosen from 
standard models whose fit suited the indi- 
vidual. The Army was unable to adopt 
this system, since to provide a money 
allowance in lieu of clothing would have 
required Congressional action to amend 
existing Army legislation. Army women 
eventually benefited in that they received 
maintenance of the uniform by free re- 

WAAC, 23 Feb 43, and Inds; (4) Ltr, WAAC Hq to 
Des Moines, 3 Apr 43; (5) Ltr, WAAC Hq to Reqmts 
Div ASF, 10 Jun 43, with Inds; (6) Memo, Col Hobby 
for Gen Somervell, 9 Jul 43; (7) Change to T/E 21, 
Sep 43; (8) Ltrs, Field Stas to Dir WAAC, various 
dates, atchd to above. All in SPWA 421.3 Shoes (9- 
4-42) 1943. 



placement of worn-out items, whereas the 
Waves' monetary maintenance allowance 
of $12.50 every three months was reput- 
edly scarcely enough to keep them in 
stockings, much less in new uniforms, 
shoes, and underwear. 31 

The Need for New Types of Work Clothing 

As Waacs began, under the expansion 
program, to do various kinds of Army jobs 
which had not been anticipated by the 
WAAC Pre- Planners, a need arose for new 
types of work clothing. Of the four types of 
jobs which had been originally author- 
ized — clerks, drivers, cooks, and telephone 
operators — the first and last could be per- 
formed in the A uniform. Accordingly, the 
only work uniforms authorized for Waacs 
were white dresses for cooks and coveralls 
for drivers to put on over their uniforms 
while making motor repairs. These work 
uniforms were issued only to the few spe- 
cialists concerned. The majority of Waacs 
when shipped to the field had only the A 
uniform plus two of the seersucker exercise 
dresses, which were worn to protect the 
service uniform during physical training, 
kitchen police, and barracks fatigue duties. 

With the expansion of the Corps, Waacs 
soon were working in hospital wards and 
laboratories, driving light trucks as well as 
staff cars, and being assigned as full-time 
mechanics, welders, pier checkers, messen- 
gers, and gas pump attendants. In the Air 
Forces many worked "on the line" in air- 
craft maintenance and in other jobs that 
required them to climb in and out of air- 
craft and up and down control towers. 
Neither the A uniform nor the fatigue 

30 Risch, Wardrobe for Women of the Army, p. 73. 

31 Memo, Asst Exec WAC for Dir WAC, 14 Mar 
44. sub: Uniform Issue of Marines, WAVES, and 
SPARS. WDWAC 421 . 



162 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



dress was appropriate. The A uniform was 
easily ruined by grease or medicines, and 
its tight skirt made tower-climbing either 
impossible or immodest; the exercise dress 
was even skimpier, being well above the 
knee and unsuitable for appearance out- 
side the WAAC area. 

One of the most important reported 
work needs was for some form of trousers 
or culottes, requests for which poured in 
from the field. The Military District of 
Washington, after a study of the needs of 
Waacs in its motor pool, requested a culotte 
skirt for drivers. The regular skirt had 
proven 

slightly embarrassing at times to the wearer, 
particularly in climbing over tail-gates into 
trucks, or standing on a rack about 3V2 feet 
high and leaning over washing the tops of 
passenger cars. . . . The coverall currently 
provided has been found unsuitable and un- 
sightly for wear when driving staff cars and 
the regulation skirt too short and tight. 

WAAC Headquarters concurred in this 
request and asked the development of a 
divided skirt for drivers. 

However, Requirements Division, Army 
Service Forces, refused the request on the 
grounds that the Director herself had re- 
jected culottes at the time the uniform was 
decided upon. The Director thereupon 
acknowledged her mistake but renewed 
the request, saying, "In March 1942 there 
were no Waacs on duty in the field and 
therefore no recommendations or decision 
could be based on actual experience." 
This question went as far as the Acting 
Chief of Staff, Army Service Forces, who 
supported Requirements Division's view 
and refused the request. 32 

The demand for a work garment con- 
tinued too strong to stem, and later in the 
spring of 1943 Director Hobby again ap- 
pealed to the Army Service Forces: "It has 
become increasingly evident as larger 



numbers of WAAC units are assigned to 
the field . . . that a trousered garment 
for exercise, fatigue, and other heavy work 
is vitally necessary." 33 Since Require- 
ments Division would not concur in the de- 
sign and procurement of slacks or culottes 
for Waacs, Director Hobby requested, 
as the only other alternative, that the her- 
ringbone twill coveralls be issued to all 
Waacs, instead of only to drivers. 

This action was agreeable to Require- 
ments Division, but, since men had only 
one type of fatigue clothes, the seersucker 
exercise dress was deleted from the author- 
ized issue except for use in the training 
center. Instead of two exercise dresses, 
each Waac assigned to the field was now 
issued one coverall. WAAC Headquarters 
requested two coveralls, but Requirements 
Division decided that one would be ade- 
quate and that Waacs in active work could 
later get two by turning in one skirt and 
one shirt. The Des Moines Motor Trans- 
port School attempted to get three or four 
coveralls for student drivers, so that cover- 
alls could be sent to the ten-day Quarter- 
master laundries. The Quartermaster 
General's Office concurred in this, but 
Requirements Division disapproved it "in 
view of the requirements of the using arms 
and services and the production facilities 
of industry." 34 The later training centers 
for a time had difficulty in getting even 
the allotted number, and drivers at Day- 
tona Beach wore men's Class B blue 
denim. 35 



32 Ltr, MDW Motor Cen to CG MDW, 30Jun 43, 
with Inds. SPWA 400.34 (3-21 -43)(1) sec 4 (1942). 

™ Memo, WAAC Hq for Reqmts Div ASF, 21 May 
43, sub: Trousers, HBT. Same file. Also Ltr, Camp 
Campbell, Ky., to 5th SvC, 20 Mar 43, and 16 Inds. 
Same file, sec 3. 

34 Ltr, Ft Des Moines MT Sch to CO 1st WAAC 
Tng Cen, 22 Sep 42. Same file, sec 1. 

31 Ltr, 2d WAAC Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 18 Jun 
43. Same file, sec 4. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



163 



PHYSICAL TRAINING af an ^rwy /li'r Forces Training Command base in 1943. 



The adoption of the coveralls did not 
solve the need for cold-weather work gar- 
ments, for which requests continued to 
come in from both Army and Air Forces 
stations. Whereas a man might comfort- 
ably wear cotton coveralls over his long 
winter underwear and wool trousers, a 
Waac had nothing underneath but her 
winter panties, only one fourth as heavy as 
men's winter underwear. In March, what 
OQMG believed to be women's wool 
shirts and trousers were issued to drivers 
only, but these proved greatly oversized 
and unsuitable. 

In late April of 1943, after the Waacs 



had somehow survived the first winter, 
The Quartermaster General sent a com- 
mittee to investigate the situation at Fort 
Des Moines and make recommendations 
on winter clothing. The committee recom- 
mended that all Waacs in cold climates, 
regardless of job, get warmer panties and 
vests (50 percent wool instead of the cur- 
rent 25 percent) and also wool shirts and 
knee-length wool stockings. All outdoor 
workers should also get long wool drawers 
and long-sleeved undershirts, trousers with 
an inner wool liner and outer windproof 
cover, field jackets with liners and covers, 
leggings, and wool caps. Director Hobby 



164 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



concurred, pointing out that much train- 
ing time had been lost at Fort Des Moines 
and Fort Devens for lack of warm cloth- 
ing. However, Requirements Division did 
not favorably consider the field jacket, 
leggings, and 50 percent wool underwear 
for women, or the wool waist, trousers, and 
liner for any except drivers. 36 

Warm-weather clothing was equally 
deficient, according to reports from hos- 
pitals and stations in semitropical climates. 
These, finding the heavy A uniform totally 
unsuited to a hot climate or to hospital 
ward work, had fallen into the admittedly 
undesirable practice of allowing Waacs to 
wear the short seersucker exercise dress for 
many types of jobs, even desk jobs in head- 
quarters where they were fully visible to 
employees and visitors. The dress was also 
worn for kitchen police and barracks du- 
ties where the long-sleeved coverall was 
too hot. Just as the decision was rendered 
to substitute coveralls for exercise dresses, 
many southern stations were writing to 
plead for four or more of the exercise 
dresses instead of two. 

The Army Air Forces' large Training 
Command, which at one time utilized 
almost one sixth of the entire WAAC per- 
sonnel, was particularly hard-hit, since the 
majority of its airfields were along the 
southern border in Florida, Louisiana, 
Texas, and the southwestern desert. A 
study prepared by this command pointed 
out that at many fields the temperature 
never went below 90° or 100° for months 
at a time and often rose as high as 135° F. 
Enlisted women were obliged to wear two 
shirts a day and wash them at night, since 
there were no laundries on the fields. The 
Air Forces study concluded that Waacs 
must be immediately issued at least five 
short-sleeved shirts in addition to their 



regular ones, three exercise suits instead of 
the two then issued, and four pairs of cot- 
ton anklets instead of the three wool ones 
then issued. In reply, the AAF received 
what it considered an inexplicable deci- 
sion that no additional clothing would be 
issued and that even the two exercise suits 
would be taken away and replaced by a 
heavy coverall. 37 

In May of 1943, three months before 
the refusal of the Air Forces' request, the 
Director had made a similar recommen- 
dation: that the Quartermaster Corps 
redesign the exercise dress into a seer- 
sucker summer uniform like that of the 
WAVES and Women Marines. The Quar- 
termaster General concurred and visual- 
ized the development of one standard 
short-sleeved work dress, longer and bet- 
ter fitted than the exercise dress, which 
could be worn by cooks, hospital workers, 
women in tropical climates, and any 
others who needed such a dress. The 
Quartermaster Corps began to study this 
problem in 1943 but no summer dress for 
universal on-duty wear was produced dur- 
ing World War II. 

The lack of such a dress was felt most 
strongly by hospitals, where WAAC work- 
ers had no uniform comparable to the 
nurses' white or seersucker uniforms. Some 
Waacs wore seersucker fatigue dresses if 
they had received any before issue was dis- 
continued. This practice was pronounced 
unsanitary, since the same dress was worn 
for physical training, recreation, kitchen 
police, and barracks fatigue duties, and 
with only two dresses a Waac could not 



30 Ltr, Comdt to OQMG, 22 Apr 43. Same file, sec 

'3a. 

: " Ltr, AAF CFTC, Randolph Field, Tex., with 
Ind, Hq AAF Tng Comd, Ft Worth, Tex., to Dir 
WAC, 20 Aug 43. Same file, sec 4. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



165 



use the hospital laundry but either wore 
her dress a week unwashed or washed one 
herself every night. Even so, the two exer- 
cise dresses were more suitable than the 
one coverall that replaced them, 38 

The Quartermaster Corps, on being 
informed of the problem, was agreeable to 
issuing hospital Waacs the WAAC cook- 
baker dress, a neat cool wrap-around 
white garment which could be dyed any 
desired pastel shade to distinguish Waacs 
from nurses. However, The Surgeon Gen- 
eral's Office objected: "Fatigue clothes are 
worn by enlisted men of the medical de- 
partment and there should be no excep- 
tion for members of the WAAC stationed 
at hospitals." Waacs, this office said, could 
wear either their coveralls or surgical 
gowns. Requirements Division, ASF, con- 
curred with The Surgeon General's Office 
and overruled the Quartermaster Corps. 
They held firm in this ruling all summer 
even after stations in the field pointed out 
that enlisted men on duty in clinics and 
laboratories often did get four pairs of 
cook's white trousers and six white coats. 
The surgical gown shortly proved most 
unsatisfactory for women working in 
men's wards: it was too long, frequently 
dragging on the floor. Worse, it was open 
all the way down the back and a uniform 
was not customarily worn underneath in 
warm weather. 39 

With hundreds of similar field requests 
on file, the Army Service Forces held un- 
swervingly to its policy that no additions 
or changes would be made to the orig- 
inally authorized uniform either in type or 
amount. Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 
asked increased issue of dresses and aprons 
for cooks and bakers because of the in- 
tense summer heat, the coal ranges used, 
and the ten-day laundry service. This was 



refused by The Quartermaster General's 
Office on the grounds that the material 
was needed instead for grain bags and 
civilian clothing. Recruiting offices in Vir- 
ginia asked that all stockings issued them 
be rayon instead of half the issue in cotton, 
which produced a bad public reaction. 
The Director approved this request and 
asked that all Waacs assigned outside 
Army posts be issued rayon stockings only, 
but was refused by The Quartermaster 
General on the grounds that rayon did not 
wear as long as cotton stockings. 

Director Hobby asked that, if Waacs 
could not have a garrison cap, they be 
issued two summer hats, since the current 
issue of one made cleaning and blocking 
impossible. No immediate action was 
taken on this request; OQMG had on 
hand only 262,000 extra summer caps and 
feared that a sudden influx of recruits 
might cause a shortage. In only one minor 
case did the Army Service Forces grant a 
request for change: late in August of 1943 
it authorized WAAC recruiters to receive 
an extra summer jacket, skirt, and cap, 
after it was demonstrated by a year in the 
field that recruiters had to wear the full 
uniform daily and could not wear fatigue 
clothing while their one jacket and cap 
were being cleaned. 40 

The trend of Requirements Division's 
policy was in fact in the opposite direc- 
tion — the systematic deletion of all items 
of the original authorization that men did 

■ iS Ltr, CO Hosp Unit, Ft Oglethorpe to Dir 
WAAC, 10 Apr 43. Same file, sec 3. 

39 f I) Memo, SGO for QMG, 6 May 43, with Inds; 
(2) Ltr, Randolph Field, Tex., to Dir WAC, 20 Aug 
43. Same file, sec 4. 

40 (1) Ltr, Ft Bragg to 4th SvC, 28 May 43; (2) Ltr, 
Richmond R&I Dist to Dist R&I Off, 23 Aug 43, and 
Inds; (3) Memo, ASF for Reqmts Div ASF, 30 Aug 
43; (4) Memo, Reqmts Div ASF for OQMG. Same 
file, sec 4r. 



166 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



not wear. These included summer and 
winter pajamas, galoshes, handkerchiefs, 
dress shields, athletic shoes, and summer 
and winter bathrobes. 41 

Next, a Quartermaster committee 
"made personal investigations at Fort Des 
Moines" and found that only 25 percent 
of the women were wearing the issue gir- 
dles, others preferring to wear none or to 
purchase a favorite brand commercially. 42 
The Quartermaster Corps felt that Waacs 
should be given, in lieu of the issue, money 
to purchase the brassieres and girdles of 
their choice, and WAAC Headquarters 
concurred. However, this plan would have 
required amendatory legislation and, after 
various unsuccessful attempts to draw up 
the legislation in general terms, the Army's 
Legislative and Liaison Division retreated 
in disorder. One colonel in this division 
recommended that the proper physical 
appearance of Waacs be attained by exer- 
cise and good posture, and not by the use 
of "surgical contraptions." If the govern- 
ment was to issue brassieres and girdles to 
women, he wrote, then "such devices 
could well be considered for the officers 
and enlisted men." 43 The issue of girdles 
and brassieres was therefore stopped. Sev- 
eral months later, when such items became 
very scarce on the commercial market, the 
Director requested that the issue be re- 
sumed, but this request was refused by 
The Quartermaster General. 

Public Reaction to Unsuitable Uniforms 

By this time it was unfortunately impos- 
sible to conceal from the American public 
the fact that the WAAC uniform and sup- 
ply program had become a tragicomedy 
of errors. Gallup polls showed that eligible 
prospects for enlistment rated the WAAC 
uniform last in attractiveness, after the 



Marines', Waves', and Spars' uniforms. 
The citizenry at large was inspired with a 
desire to be helpful, and letters poured in 
from housewives, designers, Congressmen, 
soldiers, and other interested bystanders. 
All writers were firmly convinced that 
adoption of their ideas would immediately 
end the WAAC's recruiting difficulties. 44 
Many ideas, particularly those from 
Army stations and Waacs in the field, were 
practical and sound, but required major 
revisions, which could not have been made 
during the expansion period without 
greatly delaying contracts, and which 
could not be made afterward in view of 
the necessity of wearing out huge stocks of 
already-procured items. The same public 
that condemned the Waacs' appearance 
was not ready to support expensive meas- 
ures such as discarding thousands of dol- 
lars worth of unsightly and ill-fitting 
garments. When recruiting advertisements 
pointed out that Waacs received certain 
fine-quality items worth a total of $250 
(although actually costing the government 
half that) irate readers wrote to ask why 
the taxpayers' money was spent in this 
fashion. Later, Congressional committees 
were to investigate the alleged expenses. 45 

" (L )Memo, Distrib Div SOS for Reqmts Div SOS, 
and Ind. SPDDQ421 Shoes, in same file, sec 1. (2) 
Memo, WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 23 Nov 42. 
SPWA 400.34. 

12 Rpt cited |n. 25(f] - 

43 (1) Memo, Col E.J. Walsh, L&LD, for G-l, 28 
Oct 42. SPWA 422.2 (9-16-42) Foundation Gar- 
ments. (2) Memo, QMG for USW, 16 Sep 42, sub: 
Proposed Amendment to PL 554. Folder, WAC Re- 
cruiting, ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

44 See entire SPWA 400 files, as well as: (1) Memo, 
Dir WAC for OQMG, 20 Aug 43. SPWA 400.34 (3- 
21-42). (2) Ltr, Miss Erma Reece, Kansas City, Mo., 
to Mrs. Hobby, 10 Jul 43. SPWA 421. (3) Ltr, Mr. A. 
J. Drugan to the President of the U.S., 9 Oct 42. 
SPWA 421. (4) Comments in Min, Rctg Conf, Chica- 
go, 7-8 M ay 43, SPWA 337. (5) For Gallup polls, see 
Ich. XVI below. 

« Ibid. 



SUPPLY AND THE WAAC UNIFORM 



167 



The final solution of the WAAC uni- 
form problems was impossible at this time. 
It waited upon the day when the Direc- 
tor's Office was removed from the Army 
Service Forces and when The Quarter- 
master General had organized a specialist 
group for the development of Wacs' and 
nurses' clothing. Meanwhile, the extent to 
which the state of the uniform had dam- 
aged recruiting in the intervening months 
was always to remain a matter for specu- 
lation. WAAC authorities actually attrib- 
uted less importance to this factor than did 
the general public. Although many women 
informed recruiters that this was their 
reason for not enlisting, and although 
many men used this argument to discour- 
age women from enlisting, later events 
were to indicate that this excuse was noth- 
ing more than a red herring offered by 
individuals who would have disapproved 
of enlistment in any case. 

Director Hobby offered scant sympathy 
to those who wrote her that their patriotic 



desire to enlist was impeded only by the 
uniform. To one such person she person- 
ally dictated and signed a reply: "Since 
the uniform is of so much importance to 
you in making your decision to join one of 
the women's services, I suggest that you 
select the service which, in your opinion, 
has the most attractive uniform." 46 Sig- 
nificantly, the complainers did not do so. 
The WAVES, with their smart Main- 
bocher-designed uniforms, never recruited 
the numbers of women that the WAAC 
and WAC did, and the weekly intake of 
the WAVES, SPARS, and Women Ma- 
rines fluctuated constantly in close propor- 
tion to that of the WAAC. 47 The cause of 
recruiting difficulty, for any women's serv- 
ice, was to be proved more complex than 
any mere reaction to the appearance of a 
uniform. 



48 Ltr, Miss Elizabeth Williams to Mrs. Hobby, 4 
May 44, and atchd reply. WDWAC 095. 
17 See following chapters. 



CHAPTER X 



Stresses of Rapid Build-up: 
Recruiting 



The Army Recruiting Service, to which 
had been delegated the recruitment of 
women, inherited a discouraging tradi- 
tion: from Revolutionary days onward the 
Army had never been able to recruit the 
number of men needed to fill its ranks in 
a major war. The Continental Congress 
had been unable to persuade each colony 
to contribute its fair share of men, and 
General George Washington had la- 
mented, "We should not have found our- 
selves this spring so weak as to be insulted 
by 5,000 men . . .; we should not have been 
for the greatest part of the war inferior to 
the enemy . . . for want of force which the 
country was completely able to afford." 1 
In the War of 1812 and during the Indian 
wars, even the meager forces authorized 
by Congress could not be obtained by re-, 
cruiting. Both the North and the South, 
during the Civil War, had to resort to con- 
scription before the war ended. 

With the first World War, it became an 
established tradition that the nation 
would draft soldiers if they were needed. 
Both the public and the Army accepted 
the fact that a volunteer system would 
never persuade the needed number of men 
to enlist in a national emergency. In the 
interval of peace between the two World 
Wars, Congress whittled the enlisted 
strength of the Regular Army down to 



1 18,750 men — less than the total number 
of women who were eventually to be re- 
cruited for the WAC. 2 The Army Recruit- 
ing Service therefore was geared to bring 
in only a modest number of men, and this 
during the depression years when surplus 
manpower was abundant. Even before the 
nation entered World War II Congress 
again provided for conscription, so that 
the Army had never been obliged to per- 
fect a high-grade sales organization. After 
enactment of Selective Service legislation, 
only limited personnel and facilities re- 
mained available to the Recruiting Serv- 
ice, which was devoted chiefly to Aviation 
Cadet recruiting and other special projects. 

It was thus a severely handicapped or- 
ganization that undertook WAAC re- 
cruiting upon the Corps' formation. In the 
opinion of the Army officers later assigned 
to salvage the program, the Army Recruit- 
ing Service was placed at a great disad- 
vantage in being forced to attempt a feat 
entirely outside its experience: to bring in 
larger numbers of women than it had ever 



1 Military Policy of the United States (U. S. Military 
Academy, West Point, 1944), with foreword by GoL. 
Herman Beukema, Prof., USMA, p. 8. 

2 Ibid. The top WAC strength at any one time was 
just below 100,0QiL total number recruited was 143, - 
4^ Sep Tablesllpnd ^Appendix A. See also Ch. 



XXXIV, below 



RECRUITING 



169 



obtained of men, and this in a nation that 
indorsed the idea that "women's place is 
in the home." The 1943 chief of the 
WAAC Recruiting Section, Captain Ed- 
lund, said, "The Army had never had a 
real recruiting setup. ... It was never 
a sales office in any sense of the word, for 
in peacetime they were always able to get 
the quota they were after, without actually 
recruiting them." 3 

The Navy, in recruiting Waves, recog- 
nized the difficulty by giving direct com- 
missions in high ranks to well-known ad- 
vertising experts and authorities on sales 
methods. The enlistment of Waves was 
taken entirely out of the hands of the 
agencies that enlisted men and given to 
the Office of Naval Officer Procurement, 
in consideration of the fact that the re- 
cruitment of women was more selective 
than the drafting of men. In the Army, 
the Army Service Forces chose to use the 
personnel already assigned to its Recruit- 
ing Service, and The Adjutant General, 
General Ulio, stated that no intensive re- 
cruiting effort for women was deemed 
"necessary or advisable." 4 

The Army Recruiting Service re- 
sponded well enough as long as no strain 
was put upon it. WAAC Headquarters 
furnished it with assorted instructions and 
pamphlets, and the numbers of applicants 
at first so far exceeded training space that 
the selection of well-qualified women of- 
fered no great problem. It was directed 
that recruits be thoroughly screened by 
mental and physical tests and by inquiries 
to their references and to police courts and 
schools. Women were also required to 
prove their occupational claims, and to be 
interviewed finally by a WAAC officer 
who had the power of administrative re- 
jection. Even so, recruiting efficiency was 
far from 100 percent, for early reports 



showed that recruiters were losing sales in 
more than two thirds of all cases in which 
women were interested enough to ap- 
proach them. 

Staff directors also noted that recruiters 
frequently gave out untrue information, or 
took other action not in the best interests 
of the Corps/' About mid-November of 
1942 Colonel Catron reported to General 
Grunert that there were some signs of 
what was called "careless enrollment." 6 
Each applicant was at this time the sub- 
ject of a Provost Marshal General check, 
although her enlistment could be com- 
pleted pending its receipt, and an increas- 
ing number of derogatory reports began 
to be received which necessitated the dis- 
charge of women after enrollment. Par- 
ticularly embarrassing was one case in 
which a recruit's unsuitability had not 
been detected in time, and, although dis- 
charged, she was thereafter able to bill 
herself as "The Original WAAC Strip- 
Teaser." A study was initiated to check 
such cases, and the office also took up with 
The Surgeon General the number of 
physically unfit individuals being ac- 
cepted. Colonel Catron urged The Adju- 
tant General's Office, which conducted 
WAAC recruiting, to increase its efforts 
both in numbers and quality. 



3 Memo, Gonf of Offs to Supervise OC Bds, 9-10 
Jun43. SPWA 334.8 Conf 1943. 

4 Memo, TAG for CG ASF, 5 Apr 43. AG 341 
(4-5-43) PR-I, in SPWA 341. 

1 (1) Ltr, TAG to all Corps Areas, 4 Jul 42; Addi- 
tions: TWXs, TAG to all Corps Areas, 24 Jul and 12 
Aug 42; also Ltr, WAAC Hq to Corps Areas, 16 Jul 
42. SPX 291.9, in SPWA 341. (2) Weekly Rpt, WAAC 
Hq to CofAdm Serv, 7-12 Dec 42. SPWA 319.12. (3) 
Ltr, Stf Dir 2d SvC to Betty Bandel. Folder, WAAC 
Stf Mtg, SPWA 319.2 (12-2-42), WAAC Planning 
files. Also Rpts in Folder, Stf Dirs Conf, Chicago, 15- 
17 Jun 43, SPWA 337 (6-1-43). 

6 Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 8-16 
Nov and 28 Nov 42. SPWA319.12 (11-9-42) sec 1. 



170 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 




RECRUITING OFFICERS OF SIXTH SERVICE COMMAND at a meeting to 
help promote enrollment in the WAAC, December 1942. 



Danger Signals 

When the expansion program required 
a tenfold increase in quotas, The Adju- 
tant General's Office began to put more 
pressure on its Recruiting Service. A book- 
let was circulated entitled A Plan for In- 
creasing the Rate of Enrollment in the WAAC. 
In order not to disturb Army command 
prerogatives, the actual conduct of re- 
cruiting was left to the service commands, 
of which Captain Edlund observed, "In 
the Service Commands we had nine sepa- 
rate recruiting campaigns." 7 In January 
of 1943 all service commands received a 
visit from a liaison party consisting of 
representatives of The Adjutant General 
and WAAC Headquarters, accompanied 
by advertising experts from N. W. Ayer & 
Son, the advertising agency that held the 



contract for WAAC recruiting. Advertis- 
ing matter was placed in seven magazines 
and in many newspapers; several WAAC 
posters were printed and distributed by 
The Adjutant General's Recruiting Pub- 
licity Bureau in New York City; informa- 
tion pamphlets of several types were also 
provided. Through the Office of War In- 
formation, a radio campaign was ob- 
tained. 8 

In spite of these efforts, certain danger 
signals began to be apparent. One was the 
adverse attitude of the men of the armed 
forces. In early January of 1943 the unfa- 
vorable nature of soldier opinion had be- 
come so unmistakable that Director Hobby 



7 Memo cite d n. Ifl 

8 (1) Memo cited EZH (2) Memo, Col Charles A. 
Easterbrook for Dir WAAC, 1 Feb 43. SPWA 334.8 
Rctg (12-28-42) 1942. 



RECRUITING 



171 



requested the Services of Supply to make a 
formal survey. 9 This was done at once by 
Special Services Division, and the results, 
available in March, were more unfavor- 
able than even the worst expectations. 
When asked, "If you had a sister 21 years 
old or older, would you like to see her join 
the WAAC or not?" the reply was: 

No 40 percent 

Yes 25 percent 

Undecided 35 percent 

The percentages were almost identical 
when men were asked whether they would 
advise a girl friend to join — only one 
fourth would. Those who said no gave as 
their reasons: "Women are more help in 
industry, defense work, farm"; "better off 
at home"; "Army no place for a woman"; 
"too close contact with soldiers"; "too 
hard a life"; "don't like Army life and 
wouldn't want her to be in anything 
similar." 

When asked, "How do you think a 
young woman without family responsibil- 
ities can serve her country best?" over half 
designated war industry; others preferred 
farm or "government work." Only from 
10 to 20 percent of different groups named 
the WAAC; only from 1 to 2 percent the 
WAVES. These opinions were offered 
although most had never seen a Waac. 
Almost none had any idea what the Waacs 
were to do; about 25 percent said "work 
for the government," and as much as 13 
percent in some groups said "combat 
duty." 

General Somervell expressed considera- 
ble alarm at the report and wrote, "This 
not only creates a severe drag on WAAC 
recruiting, but also creates an unneces- 
sarily lengthy adjustment period when 
WAAC personnel reports for duty in the 
field." He directed that a high-priority 
film be made for the purpose of influ- 



encing soldier opinion, also a handbook to 
provide soldier information, and that any 
other media available to the Army con- 
centrate on the problem. General Somer- 
vell also, upon the request of General Ulio, 
sent a letter to the commanding generals 
of service commands, stating, "Intimations 
have come to me that our men in the 
Army have not been too sympathetic to 
the idea of a women's auxiliary . . . ," 
and urging them to take steps to change 
the minds of their subordinates. 

By early spring, however, the unfavor- 
able attitude was still growing. General 
Madison Pearson commented on "the 
wave of letters coming from service men 
urging their wives, sisters, or girl friends 
not to join the WAAC." Director Hobby 
added that the WAAC had received fairly 
good publicity from press and radio, and 
only adverse comments on enlistment from 
men of the armed forces; she added, 
"WAAC Headquarters had been aware 
for some time of the attitude of the Army 
to the WAAC." 10 

Also ominous was the attitude of the 
newly created War Manpower Commis- 
sion, which in December of 1942 had been 
given jurisdiction over the Selective Serv- 
ice system. Since one of the Commission's 
primary missions was to secure 4,000,000 
women for civilian industry, its policies to- 
ward the womanpower needs of the armed 
forces from the beginning caused them 
some concern. The War Manpower Com- 
mission had immediately ended Army- 
Navy recruiting for men within draft age, 



; ' Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 4-9 
Jan 43. SPWA 319.12. 

10 (1) Memo, GG SOS for Dir Sp Serv Div SOS, 19 
Mar 43. SPAP 320.2 WAAC. (2) Memo, TAG for CG 
ASF, 25 Mar 43. Vol. I, Gen Policy, WAAC Hist files. 
(3) Memo, DCofAdm Serv for CofS ASF, 5 Apr 43. 
SPWA 341 (4-5-43). (4) Memo, Dir WAAC for CG 
ASF, 7 Apr 43. SPWA 341. 



172 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



limiting the armed forces to such man- 
power supply as could be obtained through 
authorized draft quotas. It was the Army's 
opinion that the Commission did not pos- 
sess powers so to limit female recruiting, 
since in this case the armed forces' needs 
were not supplied by a draft. Neverthe- 
less, in preliminary negotiations with the 
Commission over the extent of its influence, 
the suggestion was made that the WAAC 
restrict its recruiting to Group IV areas — 
the most limited and unpromising part of 
the nation's manpower area. It was also 
hinted that the WAAC should not recruit 
in occupational fields in short supply in in- 
dustry — namely, the clerical, steno- 
graphic, and other fields most needed by 
the Army. This action followed the stand- 
ard world-wide pattern: in almost every 
nation in which womanpower had become 
important, there had existed a stage in 
which military needs were considered sec- 
ondary to those of industry. In at least one 
country the pressure of industry upon the 
national control group had been such that 
an army had been ordered to release to 
factories the women it had already re- 
cruited and trained. 11 

For its first months the WAAC had had 
no restrictions upon the sources from 
which it might accept recruits, although 
almost every civilian concern expressed 
the opinion that its womanpower needs 
were more important than those of the 
Army. A typical protest was one for- 
warded to a United States senator by a 
state manufacturers association, which 
said: 

A great deal of training is needed to pro- 
duce a cotton mill operator. . . . Don't you 
think these women are more needed in the 
cotton mills than in the WAACs? Can you 
advise us of any steps this mill can take to 
prevent these girls from leaving their posi- 
tions to join the WAAC? 12 



Early objections also came from govern- 
ment agencies, such as the General Ac- 
counting Office and the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, which asked that the 
WAAC refuse to accept their female em- 
ployees. 

At this time Director Hobby still clung 
to what she felt to be the "only tenable 
position": 

So long as enrollment in this Corps is vol- 
untary, and [women] citizens of this country 
are free to choose whether or not they shall 
make a war effort and if so in what manner, 
the Corps cannot refuse to enroll those who 
desire to join its ranks if they are otherwise 
eligible. 13 

On 6 February 1943, when the General 
Staff conference met to decide the 
WAACs future recruiting quotas, the im- 
minence of the Army's defeat in this en- 
counter was perhaps not fully realized. 
However, within three months tremen- 
dous pressure from government and indus- 
try was to compel the armed forces to 
agree to sweeping limitations on women's 
enlistment: no women federal employees 
to be accepted without a release from their 
agencies; no women from "war industries" 
to be accepted without a written release 
from their employers or a statement of 
compelling reasons; no agricultural 
workers to be accepted at all. 14 

The Director informed the General 
Staff that recruiting prospects, excellent in 
1942, had by this date deteriorated badly. 
For its first six months the Army had en- 



11 New Zealand. Memos, Alice R. Randolph (Ci- 
vilian Consultant) to Dir WAAC, 1 Jan 43, and 4 Jan 
43. WAAC Planning files. 

12 Ltr, 5 Jan 43, and atchd corrcsp. SPWA 201.6. 

'■' Ltr, Atty Gen to SW, 15 Sep 42. and atchd re- 
plies. WA 044.2 FBI. Also Ltr, GAO to 1st Lt Henry 
Lee Munson, 5 Oct 42. SPWA 324.72 (1943). 

'* Ltr, TAG to all SvCs, 26 Feb 43. AG 341 WAAC 
(2-25-43) PR I-A, in SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26-43). 



RECRUITING 



173 



countered little competition from the 
other armed services. However, in 1943 
the WAVES, SPARS, and Women Ma- 
rines began to offer numerous advantages 
to the better-qualified women: military 
status, direct commissions for college 
women, smart uniforms individually pur- 
chased, schools in attractive locations, 
and, in the case of the WAVES, technical 
assignments and a policy of permitting 
social association with officers. Also set up 
about this time was the government-fi- 
nanced U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps for civil- 
ian trainees, which gave attractive uni- 
forms, free professional training, and a 
student's salary greater than that of a 
Waac private. 

Disputes Over Lowering Standards 

To overcome these obstacles, The Adju- 
tant General took a step which, for the re- 
mainder of the Corps' existence, was to 
remain a most controversial issue. He 
lowered acceptance standards and simpli- 
fied recruiting procedure in order to meet 
the increased quotas. Recruiters were 
permitted to enroll applicants before re- 
sults of the serological test were obtained 
and to discharge them from the Reserve if 
the test proved positive. Presentation of a 
preliminary health certificate from a civil- 
ian doctor was no longer required, since 
this put the applicant to some expense and 
was supposedly duplicated by the Army 
examination. Letters of recommendation 
were no longer required, except in doubt- 
ful cases, and the WAAC questionnaire 
was eliminated, as well as the statements 
on occupational training. An aptitude test 
score of only 50 was made acceptable, and 
no educational requirement was included. 
Instead of the previous Provost Marshal 
General investigation there was substi- 



tuted a check by the local office of the Re- 
tail Credit Company, Inc., optional with 
the recruiter. 15 

The place of WAAC Headquarters in 
this recruiting picture was not clear. Cap- 
tain Edlund said later: 

Back in November we had a recruiting 
section here in Headquarters which consisted 
of two people. We were called into The Adju- 
tant General's Office and the only thing we 
had to say about it was not in regard to the 
way the job should be done. . . . As early as 
January we were convinced that the recruit- 
ing campaign would not be successful . . . 
we fought for all the things we felt were miss- 
ing. The quality slipped badly. 113 

On the other hand, General Ulio said, 
"Close liaison has been maintained at all 
times with WAAC Headquarters"; and 
also, "All important changes in recruiting 
activities affecting the WAAC receive the 
comment or concurrence of WAAC Head- 
quarters before issue." 17 

In spite of these drastic measures, the re- 
cruiting campaign gradually began to dis- 
appoint its sponsors. In January of 1943 
the picture was still rosy — the higher quota 
of 10,000 was actually exceeded. In Febru- 
ary the quota was raised to 18,000; most of 
those on the waiting list were called to ac- 
tive duty and all others who presented 
themselves were accepted immediately. 
Nevertheless, at the end of the month it 
was discovered that the quota had not 
been met in spite of the lowered standards: 

' • (1) Ltr, TAG to all SvCs, 14 Jan 43. SPX 341 
WAAC (1-14-43) PR-I, in SPWA 341 (7-4-42) 
1942. (2) Ltr, TAG to all SvCs, 26 Feb 43, AG 341 
WAAC (2-23-43) PR-I- A, in SPAP 341 WAAC 
(2-26-43). (3) Historical Monograph, The Loyalty 
Investigations Programs, prepared by the Office of the 
Provost Marshal General, p. 17 and Tab 38A. 
OCMH. 

16 Memo ciccd rimn 

17 Memo, TAG for CG ASF, 25 Mar 43. Vol. Gen 
Policy, WAAC Hist files, 1943. 



174 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



only 12,270 had been enlisted. This figure, 
had recruiters only known it, was to be tops 
for all time. The bubble had burst. The 
quota was raised to 27,000 for March — 
the number needed to fill the new training 
centers — and recruiters were urged to 
make new efforts. This quota was not met 
and the take for March fell below that of 
February— 11, 464. 18 

There was mounting evidence that the 
campaign was not recruiting from wider 
and more promising areas, but instead was 
merely scooping up the undesirables who 
had been previously rejected. One veteran 
WAAC recruiter described the situation: 

In 1942 we had crowds of applicants and 
could pick and choose. By early 1943 these 
were well picked over, but the quota went up 
while the applications went down. Many of 
those whom we now called to duty were those 
who were acceptable but not quite the best. 
By March these were almost gone, and we 
were faced with a choice of accepting women 
we had previously rejected or of leaving our 
quotas unfilled. 19 

A GCT Standards 

Within a few weeks, the results of lower- 
ing standards were so serious as to cause 
Director Hobby to appeal to General 
Somervell to overrule The Adjutant Gen- 
eral. In the matter of AGCT standards, 
records preserved at Fort Des Moines illus- 
trated the situation. In September and 
October of 1942 Army General Classifica- 
tion Tests given recruits at this training 
center showed that less than 10 percent 
fell into the lowest two grades, IV and V, 
30 percent in Grade III, or average, while 
60 percent were in Grades I and II, the 
two highest grades, in which Army officer 
candidates were required to score." Even 
in December, only 12 percent were in the 
two lowest groups, as against the Army ex- 



pectancy of 32 percent. However, during 
the first months of 1943 standards plum- 
meted, and over 40 percent of all recruits 
received at Des Moines were in Grades IV 
and V. Similar records from other training 
centers were not preserved, but it was the 
opinion of authorities at Daytona Beach 
and Fort Oglethorpe, which drew from 
the Fourth and Eighth Service Com- 
mands, that they had an even higher per- 
centage of Grades IV and V recruits. 
Almost half of all WAAC recruits were 
now falling in a group so low that their 
usefulness for any sort of skilled noncom- 
bat task seemed doubtful. 21 

Records at Fort Des Moines also 
showed a similar drop in the degree of 
education attained — in April a large num- 
ber of recruits were found to have had 
only grade school education or less. Like- 
wise, the degree of skill attained in civilian 
experience declined; of a typical group of 
women at Des Moines, about 70 percent 
were classified as semiskilled, unskilled, 
domestic service, or laborer. Not all of 
these records were available to Director 
Hobby when she began to make protests 
in March, but the trend was unmistak- 
able. 

By the end of March about 1,000 of 
these women, about half of whom were 
white and half Negro, were waiting idly in 
the training centers, where they consti- 
tuted a problem of morale and sometimes 
of discipline. It became clear now, if it had 

18 See ITablo 2J Appendix A. 

111 Intcrvs with Maj Jean Melin. then of New Jersey 



Rctg Dist. 

M Grade I 1 30 or above 

Grade I) 110-129 

Grade III 90-109 average; 100 median 

Grade IV 70-89 

Grade V 69 or below 



» ASF Hist of WAC Tng, Ch. II, Table III and 
footnote. OCMH. 
22 Ibid., Tables IV, V. 



RECRUITING 



175 



not been before, that the Army literally 
had no military assignment for unskilled 
and unintelligent women. These could not 
be assigned to replace enlisted men of like 
category because such men were ordinarily 
assigned to heavy work which women 
could not perform. They could not be 
trained for more than a few types of mili- 
tary duties. 

Colonel Branch, head of the WAAC 
Planning Service, suggested that they be 
formed into motor transport, mess, and 
laundry companies, but the idea proved 
unsuccessful. Laundry training was not 
attempted because no military jobs could 
have been filled. Cooks and Bakers School 
received many and failed to graduate 
most, pointing out that such women 
almost never made good cooks and could 
pass neither the cooks nor the bakers 
course; they were not even cleanly and 
reliable in lesser duties. The Motor Trans- 
port School was directed to take large 
numbers. When the women could not pass 
the driver aptitude test, they were assigned 
to the course without it; when they could 
not pass the course, the course was 
changed to eliminate all technical sub- 
jects. Even with these concessions the 
school was able to convert few into quali- 
fied drivers. 

Next, attempts were made to train the 
women as ward orderlies in hospitals but 
were abandoned when it was found that 
the women could not replace men of like 
category because of the heavy lifting in- 
volved. The women obviously were useless 
for all except the most simple and repeti- 
tious duties in factories or the home. To 
enlist them was not only to deprive indus- 
try of needed factory workers but also to 
burden the Army's military manpower 
allotments with women who could not 
carry their share of the work. 



Later, opportunity schools and special 
training units were to be attempted, but 
inasmuch as the women's deficiency was 
ordinarily mental and not educational, 
training authorities pronounced the time 
spent on them to be more than their sub- 
sequent usefulness warranted. Medical 
authorities also discovered that the rate of 
disability discharge among these women 
was about four times as high as among 
skilled workers. Psychiatrists noted that 
the continued failure to succeed on Army 
jobs provoked neurotic conditions and dis- 
ciplinary infractions among the subjects. 23 

In addition to the low-grade personnel 
retained at training centers, thousands of 
others were placed in companies on vari- 
ous pretexts and shipped to the field. Their 
impact on field stations was unfortunate 
and threatened to destroy the Corps' early 
reputation of one-for-one replacement of 
men. An alarmed staff director reported 
that, at a certain Arizona airfield, 152 
women had arrived, of which 53 were in 
Grades IV and V; 86 had scores below 99. 
At a neighboring field in California, 34 of 
154 were in Grades IV and V, and 78 were 
below 99 in score. While such percentages 
were still within the Army average, they 
were not good enough for a headquarters 
company such as the WAAC provided. 
The staff director commented: 

It would seem that no company going into 
the field should be burdened with such a 
large number of auxiliaries in the two lowest 
brackets. It makes an unfortunate impression 
of the Corps when the station contains so 
many women of low-grade mentality, which 
so often means low-grade behavior. 24 

She reported that all had been assigned to 
"grease monkey" work where it appeared 

- 3 For full discussion see Chs. |XXXl| and 
IxXXld below. 

21 Ltr, 1st O Helen Woods, WAAC Stf Dir AAF 
WFTC, to Col Catron. 3 Jun 43. SPWA 319.1. 



176 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



doubtful that they could ever replace men, 
one for one. The Second WAAC Training 
Center was called upon for an explana- 
tion, since it had shipped the offending 
companies. Daytona Beach replied: "The 
only thing significant about the fact that 
these companies came from Daytona is 
that we have had the misfortune of having 
these people sent to us to train. There have 
been sent to us 3,576 Grade IV and V 
people." 25 

At Director Hobby's direction, training 
centers compiled detailed reports of all 
women in Grade V, giving the station of 
their enlistment. These she forwarded to 
General Ulio with the request that stations 
be reprimanded and individual recruiters 
penalized for all such women accepted, 
since they obviously could not have passed 
the WAAC intelligence tests which sta- 
tions were supposedly giving. Since, in one 
week, three fourths of the number came 
from two stations in the Eighth Service 
Command, such corrective action ap- 
peared warranted. However, The Adju- 
tant General did not reprimand the sta- 
tions, but instead asked them to forward 
the test scores of the individuals concerned; 
these, somewhat naturally, were reported 
as passable, and no further action was 
taken. 26 

Medical Standards 

As soon as the requirement for a civilian 
doctor's examination was dropped it 
quickly became clear that physical and 
psychiatric standards were falling alarm- 
ingly. Director Hobby gathered from 
training centers a list of the worst cases, 
including 30 women who were preg- 
nant when accepted, 52 cases of psycho- 
neurosis, 39 of menopausal syndrome, and 
miscellaneous other disorders such as 



fibroid uterus, rheumatic heart disease, 
chronic cystitis, duodenal ulcer, severe 
bronchial asthma, hyperthyroidism, ar- 
thritis, epilepsy, atrophy of left leg and 
thigh, and dementia praecox. Also, two 
babies had been born to new enrollees be- 
fore they could be discharged — one only 
six weeks after the date of the mother's en- 
rollment examination. 27 

Director Hobby forwarded these lists to 
The Surgeon General with names of the 
stations from which each had been re- 
cruited, with a request for corrective action 
in the case of the medical examiners con- 
cerned. The Surgeon General, however, 
refused to take any such action on the 
grounds that an Army medical examiner 
could not have been expected to detect 
any of these cases, except that of the ad- 
vanced pregnancy, under the induction 
examination used. This examination in- 
cluded serological tests, chest X rays, 
urinalysis, palpation of abdomen, and 
tests of blood pressure, vision, and hearing. 
A pelvic examination had not been re- 
quired and neither had a complete social 
history, since these were not required for 
men's induction examinations. Without 
them, The Surgeon General pointed out, 
many illnesses could not always be diag- 
nosed. 28 

Fort Oglethorpe authorities complained 
that Army medical examiners seemed to 
think that the training center was an in- 
duction center like the Army's and that a 
thorough physical examination would be 
given there. WAAC Headquarters wel- 
comed this, saying, "This confirms the 



25 Ibid., 3d Ind. 

20 Memo, WAAC Hq for TAG, 16 Mar 43. SPWA 
210.11 (2-17-43). 

27 Memo, WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 1 1 May 43. 
SPWA 702. 

28 Ibid., 2d Ind. SPMCS 322.5-1, SGO. 



RECRUITING 



177 



Division's contention that publication of a 
circular is necessary to clarify stand- 
ards." 29 

Returns from the field indicated that 
the chief difficulty was not willful negli- 
gence, but either the absence of an ade- 
quate authorized induction examination 
for women or medical examiners' ignor- 
ance of proper standards of such an exam- 
ination. Thus, early in 1943, rejection 
rates for mental diseases ranged from a 
low of 0.6 per thousand in the First Service 
Command to a high of 30.6 per thousand 
in the Sixth Service Command; either far 
more women in Chicago were deranged 
than in Boston, or the medical standards 
differed widely in the two service com- 
mands. 30 Evidence indicated that more 
stations were too lax than too strict: of all 
disability discharges granted until June, 
1943, one half of the women discharged 
had been in service less than four months 
and three fourths less than five and a half 
months, which strongly suggested that the 
disabilities had existed before enlistment. 
Furthermore, analysis showed that 73.7 
percent of all disability discharges were for 
two reasons only — gynecological and 
neuropsychiatric. This appeared to some 
to be rather strong evidence that medical 
examiners were more or less efficiently 
screening out the disabilities common to 
men and women, but were baffled by 
those peculiar to women. 31 

There were a few WAAC staff directors 
who felt that some examining psychia- 
trists, in the absence of guidance from The 
Surgeon General, were methodically 
screening out the more stable applicants. 
In one extreme case, a director noted 
that the local psychiatrist "maintained 
that the only way to determine a wom- 
an's stability was to require her to walk 
into his office naked, and to sit down and 



answer his questions in this condition." 
He then, in order to test her emotional 
balance, asked her, "How often during 
the past month have you had intercourse 
with a soldier or sailor?" The staff direc- 
tor added, "We lost a number of nice 
young prospects who never came back 
after he interviewed them. I could just 
imagine what they told their parents 
about the purpose of the Women's Army 
Corps," 32 There also continued to be a 
disconcerting number of unwise accept- 
ances, such as the woman who reported to 
Fort Oglethorpe and nine days later in- 
formed authorities: "I am the Duchess of 
Windsor." 33 

A company officer at Daytona Beach 
found that the parents of one of her re- 
cruits had removed her from an insane 
asylum to enlist her; when the officer 
called the girl and her parents to the 
orderly room and presented them with her 
discharge, the parents wept, while the girl, 
it was related, "leaped over and bit her 
mother." 34 

To remedy such matters, Director 
Hobby urged The Surgeon General's 
Office to set up a specialist group to deter- 
mine and publish detailed guides to the 
medical examinations required for women 

7S > (1) Extracts from a large file oi Tng Cen Rpts on 
WDAGO Form 40 (C.D.D.). SPWA 220.8 (9-30-43), 
1943. (2) Ltr, 3d Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 14 Apr 43; 
also atchd Memo, WAAC Pers Div to Dir WAAC. 
SPWA 314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec 1. 

30 (1) Quarterlv Rpt, Exam of Candidates for 
WAAC, Nov 42_Jan 43, SGO, Jan 43. WDWAC 702. 
(2) Memo cited ln. 27 J (3) Memo, SG for Dir WAC, 15 
Sep 43. WDWAC 370.01. 

31 Memo, Med Stat Div SGO for Dir WAAC, 18 
Jun 43. SPWA 220.8 (6-18-43). 

32 Interv with Lt Col Katherine Goodwin, ASF 
WAC Off (then Stf Dir 1st SvC), 8 Oct 45. 

33 Rpt of 3d WAC Tng Cen, Min, Stf Dirs Conf, 
New York, 1-3 Dec 43. SPWA 337 (11-10-43). 

31 Interv with Lt Col Mary Wceras Fullbright (for- 
mer CO of Tng Co.), Apr 51. 



178 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



and to their later medical care. In May, 
she brought the matter to the personal 
attention of Generals Marshall and Som- 
ervell. In return she received from both 
the assurance that they would "personally 
OK procedure and it [would] soon 
straighten out." 

The action of these authorities was 
unrecorded, but The Surgeon General 
shortly went on record that "there are 
problems of health peculiar to women." 
He therefore yielded in the matter of spe- 
cialization and, a year after the WAAC's 
establishment, appointed the office's first 
Consultant for Women's Health and Wel- 
fare — Maj. Margaret D. Craighill, for- 
merly dean of the Women's Medical 
College of Pennsylvania. Major Craighill 
became responsible for recommendations 
concerning the health of 60,000 Waacs 
and 30,000 nurses, and for visits to them 
at stations both in the United States and 
overseas. Director Hobby stated, "This is 
our first ray of hope. Now we have real 
co-operation from The Surgeon General. 
Major Craighill has been given the whole 
problem." Major Craighill at once set her- 
self to secure published standards for 
proper gynecological and psychiatric 
screening of applicants and for other 
medical problems. 35 

Moral Standards 

Even more distressing was the lowering 
of moral standards, although the relative 
number of women concerned was not 
great. Some lowering of behavior stand- 
ards was inherent in the acceptance of 
women of low ability or of neurotics and 
other unstable persons. In addition, 
women were now accepted whose charac- 
ter and past record were questionable. 

Early in November 1942 the Office of 



the Director had pointed out to The Adju- 
tant General the dangers of attempting to 
apply to women the moral standards used 
for men. The Director's Office protested 
that the check on male inductees was han- 
dled so as to admit all but vicious crimi- 
nals, chronic offenders, and habitual 
drunkards. The Director believed higher 
standards necessary for a volunteer non- 
combat corps of women and, in all cases 
referred to her, refused to accept women 
who had been convicted of any criminal 
offense. 36 

Until January, when references and 
other time-consuming checks were discon- 
tinued except for doubtful cases, a woman 
might possibly be screened out by reports 
received in this way, unless she applied in 
a state where she had no record, but after 
January this safeguard was absent. Re- 
cruiters were further handicapped in 
smaller towns by the fact that a traveling 
recruiting team, spending only a day or 
two in the town, might unknowingly ac- 
cept a presentable-looking woman whose 
unsavory record was known to everyone in 
town except the recruiters. For men, such 
incidents were prevented by the fact that 
Selective Service boards gathered case his- 
tories, but the Director of Selective Service 
refused to extend this work to WAAC 
recruits. 

One WAAC officer enlisted a woman, 
about whom she was a little doubtful, only 
after the local police chief assured her that 
the woman had no police record. The 

38 (1) Memo, Exec SGO for Dir WAC, 15 Aug 44. 
SPMC/DD 322.5, in WDWAC 720. Appointment of 
women doctors in the Medical Corps had been au- 
thorized by PL 38, April 1943; those already in the 
WAAC were transferred to the Medical Department. 
(2) Speech bv Dir WAAC. Min, Stf Dirs Conf, Chi- 
cago, 15-17 Jun 43, SPWA 337 (6-1-43). 

ns Memo, WAAC Hq for Apmt & Ind Br AGO, 1 1 
Nov 42. AG 000.5 1 WAAC PR-W, in SPWA 000. 



RECRUITING 



179 



woman was subsequently discovered to be 
a well-known prostitute and drunkard 
with a long police record. When the police 
chief was asked for an explanation, he 
replied frankly, "Well, I thought it would 
get her off our hands and probably do her 
good too." 37 

To prevent such occurrences, the Direc- 
tor and The Adjutant General joined in a 
petition to General Grunert that no 
woman be accepted without investigation 
and clearance by the Provost Marshal 
General's local investigators. The Director 
stated, "In the present stage of develop- 
ment, with the quality of material under 
close [public] scrutiny, . . . this office is 
of the strong opinion that all recruits 
should be checked . . . for the next 60 
days." However, the Chief of Administra- 
tive Services and the Provost Marshal 
General opposed the idea, since such a 
check was not made for men. Instead, 
General Grunert informed the Director 
that, as a concession to the publicity prob- 
lem, a spot check would be made of one in 
every ten recruits. 38 

Inexpert Sales Methods 

The appearance of recruiting stations 
and the manners of recruiters also, in the 
Director's opinion, frightened off some 
applicants. To check on this suspicion, she 
secured authorization for a civilian agency 
to make an impartial survey. 39 This agency 
sent women employees to recruiting sta- 
tions in all parts of the United States. 
Some sat for as much as forty minutes 
without attention; others were told that 
they were not needed and were given no 
informational pamphlets. 40 Still others 
were unable to find the Army recruiting 
stations, which were usually in inaccessi- 
ble locations, although in searching for the 



station one agent found a Navy station 
where she was most politely treated and 
showered with literature and enthusiastic 
accounts of life in the WAVES. One who 
did find an Army station reported, "We 
had to go through about 100 selectees, 
whistling and making friendly remarks." 41 
Another gave an account of her experience 
as follows: 

Q: As you entered the recruiting station, 
what was the general reaction you got? 

A: Rather unfavorable, unattractively fur- 
nished, and clouded with cigar smoke. Man 
in uniform looking out the window. 

Q,: What sort of reception did this person 
give you? 

A: Turned around, gave a brief look at me, 
hollered "Sergeant!," and started looking out 
the window again. 

Qj Was the recruiter a man or a woman? 

A: A man . . . I felt that he thought the 
campaign was of little importance. Here is a 
verbatim report of our conversation. 

Applicant: I just want to ask some ques- 
tions about the WAAC. 

Sergeant: Are you over 2 1 and have a birth 
certificate some place at home? 

Applicant: Yes. 

Sergeant: OK. There isn't anything you 
could ask me that isn't in there. (Hands over 
a pamphlet.) Take it home and when you 
make up your mind, come back. 42 

It was the agency's verdict that any 
business concern selling products to 
women would shortly go bankrupt if it hid 
its shops in places where women would not 
or did not go, or if it employed untrained 
salespeople who had no knowledge of the 



37 Co Comdrs Forum on Discipline. Files of Schof 
WAC Pers Adm, OCMH. 

38 Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to CofAdm Serv, 14-21 
Feb 43. SPWA 319.12 (11-9-42) sec 1 (1942). 

39 Young & Rubicam. 

40 Statement by Maj Rice, Min cited In. S.S.I 

41 Rpt, Young & Rubicam. Min, 6th SvC Rctg 
Conf, Chicago, 7-8 May 43, SPWA 337. 

42 Ibid. 



180 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



product or any desire to sell it. It was dis- 
covered that, as a result of these sales 
methods, only one out of every ten women 
interested enough to find their own way 
to a recruiting station ever filed an appli- 
cation. 43 

The Director pointed out that sur- 
roundings which were acceptable to male 
draftees were not always acceptable to 
women volunteers. For example, male in- 
ductees who must spend the night near a 
station were ordinarily housed in the 
cheapest hotel available. Some WAAC 
applicants reported that they had to spend 
the night in questionable establishments. 
This point was not one on which The Ad- 
jutant General cared to make a stand for 
identical treatment, and a directive went 
out: 

In contracting for lodgings for WAAC ap- 
plicants for enrollment, the regulation . . . 
which requires the lowest available rate per 
man per day will be interpreted to mean the 
lowest obtainable rate per woman per day 
consistent with the proper standards of clean- 
liness and decency and the personal safe- 
guards to which women are entitled. 44 

Although WAAC officers and enlisted 
women had at this time been assigned to 
the Army Recruiting Service for several 
months, protests had come in from almost 
every service command, saying that they 
had little voice in the selection of appli- 
cants. Not every station was criticized in 
this respect, but the condition was re- 
portedly widespread. The Second Service 
Command's report on this matter was the 
most complete. It asserted that WAAC 
officers had been coldly received by the 
recruiting stations; they received orders 
from enlisted men; civilian women were 
used to interview applicants while Waacs 
sat idle. Army officers determined the dis- 
position of WAAC mail without consult- 
ing the Waacs; they determined rejections; 



they made requests for waivers after the 
Waacs had declared the applicant not 
qualified. The Staff Director, Second 
Service Command, noted: "It is felt that 
the special knowledge, skill, and training 
of WAAC officers assigned to recruiting in 
the Second Service Command are not 
being fully utilized." She recommended 
that their position be defined or that they 
be transferred from the Recruiting Service 
to other jobs. 45 

Reports from other service commands 
corroborated this report. In the opinion of 
the WAAC Staff Director, First Service 
Command, the difficulty was due to lack 
of orientation of the Army Recruiting 
Service in the field. "They had no idea 
what a WAAC Recruiter was supposed to 
do," she said. "When the first two officers 
arrived at a certain station, the officer in 
charge asked, 'Can you type?' and when 
they said no, he instructed them to attend 
night school and learn so that they could 
be assigned as office typists. Apparently it 
had never occurred to these officers that 
women could be expected to plan and 
conduct a recruiting campaign or to de- 
termine the merits of enlistees." 48 The 
first WAAC recruiters in the Fifth Service 
Command noted, "All the station com- 
manders forced us to take in women with 
scores of 40; they just changed the score." 47 
On the other hand, some WAAC recruiters 
alleged that they never permitted the en- 
rollment of unsuitable applicants, al- 



* ' Memo, Dir WAAC for CG ASF, 5 Apr 43. SPWA 
341 (4-5-43)C. 

" 4 Ltr, TAG to all SvCs, 22 Jan 43. SPX WAAC 
(12-17-42) PR-I, in WA 513 (1 1-26-42), 1942. 

4S Rpt, WAAC Stf Dir to Dir Pers 2d SvC; copy in 
Ltr, 1st O Cora Webb Bass to Col Catron, 1 1 Feb 43. 
SPWA 319.1 

,B Intervcited ln. 32.| 

" Interv with Maj Marion Lichty, National Sel 
Scrv Hq (former Rctg Off), 5th SvC, 4 Mar 46. 



RECRUITING 



181 



though they had to defy senior officers 
when quotas were not met. 48 

Transfer of Responsibility to WAAC 
Headquarters 

By the end of March, less than two 
months after the expansion program was 
put into effect and before the worst of the 
results were felt, Director Hobby became 
convinced that the Army Recruiting 
Service's methods and failure to uphold 
standards were wrecking the Corps' mis- 
sion. At a staff meeting on 25 March she 
directed her Planning Service to "present 
factual and irrefutable evidence to higher 
authority that will accomplish the imme- 
diate transfer of responsibility for the 
WAAC Recruiting Program from the 
Office of The Adjutant General to Head- 
quarters WAAC." 49 On 5 April the Direc- 
tor submitted to General Somervell a de- 
tailed WAAC recruiting plan to raise 
standards and a request for control of 
acceptances. 50 

The Adjutant General countered by 
offering a radical concession. He stated 
that a separate specialist group was needed 
to recruit women and proposed entirely to 
separate the Army Recruiting Service and 
the WAAC Recruiting Service, having a 
"Service Command WAAC Recruiting 
Officer" directly responsible to the com- 
manding general, and WAAC recruiters 
responsible only to her and with full con- 
trol of the acceptance of Waacs. 51 He listed 
what he considered the chief causes of the 
difficulties, as concurred in by the Direc- 
tor: 

1. The uncertainty of the proposed legis- 
lation. [The public had apparently, until the 
WAC Bill received publicity, never before 
realized that the WAAC, unlike other wom- 
en's services, had not been admitted to full 
military rights and benefits.] 



2. The unsatisfactory setup at some of our 
service command headquarters and subordi- 
nate recruiting installations. 

3. The disappointment and dissatisfaction 
of enrollees writing home and describing con- 
ditions. 

4. The lack of proper outfitting at the time 
of enrollment. 

5. Inadequate housing facilities to take 
care of more enrollees. 

6. Lack of appreciation of the importance 
of the WAAC objective to the Army. 

7. Competition with industry. 

8. The fact that the recruiting service has 
been staffed largely with men who are not 
suited for and do not understand the psy- 
chology of recruiting women. 52 

To remedy these conditions, General 
Ulio proposed extensive reforms: better 
locations for recruiting stations; only 
Waacs allowed to process applicants; solic- 
itation of help from women's clubs; follow- 
up inspection by his office. He planned to 
increase recruiting personnel, make a 
Hollywood film, conduct a Special Serv- 
ices campaign to change Army men's 
opinions, and call on all Army chaplains 
to assist. He proposed also to relocate some 
recruiting stations, increase the advertis- 
ing campaign, and ask all Waacs to urge 
at least two friends to join. 

More important, he proposed to lower 
the age limit to 19, lower the physical 
standards, and eliminate the aptitude test 
for high school graduates. 53 

JS Maj Jean Melin, WAAC Stf Dir, AGF Repl and 
Sch Comd, formerly Rctg Off in New Jersey. 

49 Cited as authority in Memo, CofPlng Serv for 
Dir WAAC, 5 Apr 43, Tab A to Progress Rpt, 16 
Mar- 15 Apr 43. SPWA 600.14 (4-15-43). 

50 Memo cited ln. 431 Also, for Director's list of de- 
terrents, see Memo, Dir WAAC for CG ASF through 
CofAdm Serv, 31 Mar 43. SPWA 291.9 PS, under 
Planning Serv Notes, 1943 WAAC files. 

r '' Rough Draft by buck slip, Col Vance L. Sailor, 
R&I Sec AGO, to Capt Edlund, WAAC Hq, 13 Mar 
43. SPWA 34 1. 

32 Memo, TAG to CG SOS, 25 Mar 43. Vol. Gen 
Policy, WAAC Hist fil es. 

5J Memo cited |n. 4~| 



182 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



General Ulio's plan was endorsed for 
the Chief of Administrative Services by 
his deputy, General Madison Pearson. 
General Pearson suggested that the age 
limit be lowered to 18, the physical stand- 
ards be made less rigid, and an additional 
mental test or two be made available for 
those who failed the present one. 34 

The Adjutant General's proposals 
reached General Somervell on the same 
day that Director Hobby sent her request 
for transfer of control, 5 April 1943. 55 
Called upon to comment, the Director 
gave the opinion that further lowering of 
standards would be a dangerous matter. 
She noted that what she had proposed was 
a major matter of policy concerning higher 
standards, whereas The Adjutant Gen- 
eral's program of administrative detail 
would be highly appropriate for whatever 
policy was adopted. 56 

There was no reasonable compromise 
between the two points of view, since 
British experience had already strongly 
indicated that a women's corps dependent 
upon recruiting could not contain both 
types of workers: if low-grade personnel 
constituted the majority, office workers of 
good character and acceptable skill would 
not volunteer. Only selective service for 
women had eventually made it possible 
for the British forces to obtain adequate 
numbers of both types of workers in the 
same corps. The choice posed was thus 
whether the WAAC should continue its 
original mission of supplying the Army 
with those skills that were scarce among 
men — chiefly clerical and communica- 
tions — or should relinquish this to invade 
the fields of heavy physical labor in which 
women were inefficient replacements for 
men, requiring possibly two-for-one re- 
placement, but in which large numbers of 
low-grade women could easily be re- 
cruited. 



General Grunert, after a flying trip to 
Daytona Beach, changed his office's previ- 
ous stand and supported the Director's 
view, stating: "Enlistment of too many low 
grade factory, store, and restaurant work- 
ers ... is a problem. WAAC clerical 
assignments predominate and this calls for 
class. We had better slow down and get 
quality than . . . speed up for quan- 
tity." 57 He therefore withdrew previous 
objections to better screening methods, 
and advocated that Provost Marshal 
checks be restored for all recruits. 58 

On the other hand, there was a con- 
siderable body of opinion within the Army 
Service Forces which held that the Chief 
of Staffs original policy should be reversed 
and low-grade women sought. This view 
was stated a little later in the summer by 
one of General Somervell's consultants in 
recommending that steps be taken to re- 
place Director Hobby: 

The techniques appropriate to the original 
conception of the WAAC as a small highly- 
qualified group of women enrolled for more 
or less morale and propaganda purposes are 
completely inappropriate for a Corps of 
385,000 to take over all of the dirty work in 
the Zone of the Interior. . . . 

This means drastic revision of the present 
policy insisting on the high standard of intel- 

54 Memo, DCofAdm Serv for CofS ASF, 5 Apr 43. 
SPWA 341 (4-5-43). 

55 The Director had discussed her plan on 3 April 
with both The Adjutant General's Office and the 
Chief of Administrative Services; she had held it for 
two days for their comments and incorporated in it 
the only suggestion, a minor one, received from them. 
The Adjutant General had not co-ordinated his paper 
with hers; neither had the Chief of Administrative 
Services. Memo, Gen Somervell for Dir WAAC, 6 Apr 
43. SPEX, in SPWA 341 (4-5-43). 

115 Memo, Dir WAAC for CG ASF, 7 Apr 43. SPWA 
341 (4-5-43). 

" Folder, Daytona Beach. Dir Adm Serv ASF Sp 
Coll DRB AGO, 

58 Instead, a Retail Credit Company check was ex- 
tended to all recruits, for which $2.25 per name was 
paid. For later tvpes of checks, see Monograph cited 

in ly-n i 



RECRUITING 



183 



ligence, dignity, and educational and social 
background. . . . Public Relations and Re- 
cruiting policies of WAAC Headquarters . . . 
[place] an overemphasis on high standards 
and dignity, which . . . are principally and 
directly responsible for decreasing WAAC 
enrollments. 

The root of the whole matter is that Mrs. 
Hobby feels that deterioration of standards 
would result from any mass recruiting tech- 
nique, yet, whether she admits it or not, she 
has to have 385,000 Waacs by 1 July 44. . . . 
Consideration [should] be given to the ap- 
pointment of a new WAAC Director capable 
of mass organization. . . . r ' 9 

One day after its receipt the Director's 
request for control of recruiting was ap- 
proved. Some explanation of the decision 
was made in a note by the WAAC Plan- 
ning Service: "We understand that the 
Director secured the concurrence of Gen- 
eral Marshall to raise the enlistment re- 
quirements to insure better quality." 60 
Thus, as in the crisis of the previous Sep- 
tember when he had intervened to provide 
for more cautious administration, the 
Chief of Staffs personal decision now for a 
second time determined the Corps' future 
path and mission. For the next months the 
goal was to be quality, if necessary at the 
price of quantity — -recruits with clerical, 
communications, and technical skills or 
the ability to learn them, rather than 
unskilled laborers. 

The Adjutant General was directed to 
give the WAAC full co-operation and 
every practical assistance in its new re- 
sponsibility. He shortly published a mem- 
orandum asking that all communications 
on recruiting be sent to the Director, and 
withdrew from any further part in operat- 
ing details. The Chief of Administrative 
Services, as directed by General Somer- 
vell, notified the field of the new plan, 
inclosing copies of Captain Edlund's some- 
what frank interoffice memorandum on 
the deficiencies of the Recruiting Service. 



This rendered Captain ~Edlund persona non 
grata with so many Army recruiters that 
within a few months he was replaced by a 
WAAC officer. At the moment he con- 
tinued as Chief, Recruiting Section, and 
guided the campaign which was to fol- 
low. 61 

The Restoration of Standards 

Director Hobby's first act upon taking 
control of recruiting was, on 7 April, to 
restore the enrollment standards. A mini- 
mum of two years in high school and a 
score of 60 on the aptitude test were now 
required. While high, these standards were 
still below those of the WAVES, which 
required high school graduation. At once 
the number of recruits fell from 1 1,464 in 
March to 6,472 in April, and in May, 
when the new standards were in force all 
month, to only 4,064. In June the require- 
ments were raised again, to a score of 70 
plus two years of high school, or 80 with- 
out high school; in this month only 3,304 
recruits were enlisted. By July classifica- 
tion officers at headquarters and training 
centers were able to report that "problems 
in making assignments have disappeared 
due to the present higher enrollment re- 
quirements." Records from Fort Des 
Moines showed that the number of recruits 
in Grades IV and V fell at once from 40 
percent in April to 12 percent in July and 
6 percent in October. In November 1943, 



5S Memo, "K.J." for Gen Somervell and Brig Gen 
Clinton F. Robinson, 12 Jul 43. Folder, WAAC Rctg, 
ASF Sp Coll DR B AGO . 

60 Memo cited ln. 49] 

(1) 1st Ind, ACofS ASF to Dir WAAC, 8 Apr 
43, to Memo t it.-.llf. VI I (2) ASF Memo S635-4-43, 
14 May 43, signed by Gen Ulio. (3) Buck slip, Capt 
Edlund to Col Catron, May 43. SPWA 341 (4-5-43). 
(4) Ltr, CofAdm Serv to all SvCs 10 Ap r 43. SPAAS 
341, incl Memo, 31 Mar 43, cite dln. 50 J in SPAP 341 
WAAC (2-26-43). 



184 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



after the WAAC was placed in the Army 
and The Adjutant General resumed oper- 
ation, the figure jumped from 6 percent to 
20 percent, which was to remain its aver- 
age for the rest of the WAC's existence. 
The number of women with less than high 
school education fell from 36 percent in 
April to 20 percent in July. 62 

The expansion program had not so 
much collapsed as never begun. Numbers 
obtained monthly were now approxi- 
mately the same as before the campaign 
began. The influx of the unqualified had 
lasted only a brief two months and had 
been checked before it lowered the Corps' 
average standards too far, but it was clear 
that the expansion program could not con- 
tinue unless a real recruiting campaign 
could be devised that would increase 
numbers without lowering standards. 63 

The Advertising Contract 

General Ulio was also overruled in the 
matter of the advertising contract, for 
which he favored the current contractor, 
N. W. Ayer & Son. This agency had 
adopted the campaign slogan, "Release A 
Man For Combat," and had given it wide 
publicity. The slogan had proved unfor- 
tunate in several ways. In view of the 
prevalence of punsters in the population, 
it was discovered that it would be wiser to 
use the expression "Replace A Man" in- 
stead of "Release" or "Relieve." Worse, as 
the "phony war" vanished and combat 
became more real to the American public, 
the slogan appealed to no one: Army men 
in clerical jobs did not particularly appre- 
ciate being replaced for combat; mothers 
did not wish a daughter to enlist if this 
would send a son to his death; and a 
woman whose husband or sweetheart was 
killed overseas did not like to think that 



but for her or some other woman he would 
have been safe in a desk job. 

Also, the advertising agency, in han- 
dling the WAAC account as part of the 
Army account, had not given particular 
consideration to women's psychology in 
the matter of advertising appeal, location 
of recruiting stations, training of recruit- 
ers, or other matters. 

General Somervell's Control Division, 
after investigation, therefore recom- 
mended that the account be canceled be- 
cause of a decision to revise the entire 
campaign and not for any particular fault. 
Accordingly, eleven of the nation's leading 
advertising agencies were invited to a 
meeting and asked to suggest campaign 
plans. On the basis of results, Control 
Division, ASF, and Control Division, 
Adjutant General's Office, awarded the 
contract to Young & Rubicam, called "the 
largest advertising agency in the country," 
and one which handled campaigns for 
many women's products and also had an 
unusually large number of women writers 
on its staff. 64 Young & Rubicam imme- 
diately began to make surveys, for which 
they employed Dr. George Gallup and a 
staff of female investigators, to determine 
the correct psychological approach. Every 
effort was made to suppress the theme of 
"Release A Man For Combat," but it was 
found that the slogan had sunk deep into 
the public mind and was by this time so 
widespread that for months every new re- 

62 (!) Memo, Capt Edlund for TAG, 7 Apr 43; (2) 
Memo, Dir Hobby for DCofS for SvCs, 6 Jun 43; (3) 
Memo, Lies, Special Consultant, for Dir WAC, 8 Jul 
43. SPWA 341. (4) Tables III, IV, V, AS F Hist of 
WAC Tng, Des Moines figures only. (5) See [Table 2,1 
Appendix A, 

63 For a description of the average Waac, see Ch. 
XI Jpp. 192^9T] below. 

64 Rpt, Lt Col Paul V. Betters and Maj McGovern, 
Contl Div ASF; see Weekly Rpt, WAAC Hq to 
CofAdm Serv. 7-13 Mar 43 SPWA 3 1 9. 1 2. 




RECRUITING POSTER used to induce women to enroll in the Corps. This recruiting theme 
was later discarded. 



186 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



cruiter, unless forewarned, enthusiastically 
launched forth with it. 65 

The Revised Campaign 

Under the leadership of Maj. Harold A. 
Edlund, WAAC Headquarters with the 
assistance of Young & Rubicam at once 
launched a recruiting campaign which for 
desperate thoroughness had not been sur- 
passed in Army history. The success of the 
expansion plan and the Corps' whole 
future hung upon the question of whether 
well-qualified American women could be 
induced to volunteer in the numbers 
scheduled. 

Major Edlund, in civilian life a sales 
expert, believed that they could, but he 
did not underestimate the problem, which, 
he said, was believed by sales experts to be 
"one of the toughest selling jobs in the 
country today." He stated that recruiters 
who approached the problem casually had 
no idea of "the difficulties of persuading 
women of the sort we need in the WAAC 
to give up their homes and security and to 
voluntarily take on a way of life com- 
pletely foreign to them." The WAAC re- 
cruiters, he said, were intuitively aware of 
the factors involved, but lacked sales train- 
ing and the necessary authority. Never- 
theless, Major Edlund's confidence in the 
infallibility of scientific sales technique was 
such that he predicted that 100,000 
women could be recruited in the three 
months remaining before 1 July 1943, to 
bring the Corps' strength to the required 
150,000 by that date." 

The first step of the giant campaign was 
the collection of accurate data, and a 
quick Gallup poll was made of a scientifi- 
cally selected nationwide cross section of 
eligibles and the parents of eligibles. The 
results were admittedly shocking even to 



those closest to the WAAC program. Until 
this time it had been believed that if the 
women of the nation knew the Army's 
need for their services they would respond 
at once. Publicity had therefore been cen- 
tered around statements by President 
Roosevelt, General Marshall, and others 
of the nation's leaders, pointing out the 
Army's need for personnel. Now it was 
discovered that the public was perfectly 
well aware of the Army's need; an over- 
whelming majority (86 percent) replied 
"Yes, we know the need; we know the 
Army is calling for more." But women did 
not respond, according to the Gallup sur- 
vey, for five reasons: 

1. Apathy: "Sure, it's important, but let 
someone else do it." 

2. Fear of Army life: Many women feared 
they would not be equal to the reputed rigors 
of training and regimentation. 

3. Misunderstanding as to the jobs Waacs did: 
The majority were most familiar with the 
least attractive types of work — cooking, laun- 
dry, scrubbing. Thirty-one percent said the 
Waacs' main job was kitchen police. 

4. Attitude of relatives and friends: Those con- 
sidering joining were almost unanimously 
discouraged by parents and male advisers. 

5. Army attitude: Almost all eligible women 
had heard, or had been told by soldier 
friends, that the Army was opposed to the 
WAAC.' 57 

Other interesting facts were uncovered. 
It was found that more eligibles feared 
overseas service than desired it. Some 
would join only if they could be near 
home; others, only if they could travel. 

6r ' [lj Ltr. SW to Pres., N. W. Aver & Son, Inc., 7 
May 43. WDGAP 095. (2) Speech of Maj Edlund at 
the mtg. (3) TAG's opinion in Memos cited ns. Pl |17,| 
(4) Memo, WAC Hq to RPB, New York, 16 Oct 43. 
SPWA 000.7. (1943). (5) Ltr, Dir WAC to CSigO. 2 
Jul 43. SPWA 41 1.36 ( 4-10-43 ). 

06 Incl to Memo cite d n. 43~1 

67 Ltr, Young & Rubicam, Inc., to Maj Jess Rice, 
WAC Ilq, 1 Oct 4 3. SPWA 000.7. (2) See also state- 
ment cited In. 40. 



RECRUITING 



187 



Half the women believed that a Waac 
could not marry an Army man; many 
others believed that a Waac was not al- 
lowed to marry at all, or to have dates, or 
to use cosmetics. 

The new campaign was shaped by these 
discoveries. If apathy was the trouble, the 
war must be made real to women. If 
women feared a strange new life, every de- 
tail of the life must be publicized so that 
it was familiar and not frightening. If they 
had mistaken ideas about the Corps, these 
must be corrected: they must be told that 
Waacs did interesting work as well as 
menial, that Waacs dated, married, and 
used cosmetics. If families and Army men 
disapproved, some approach must be 
found to change their attitude. The key- 
note of the campaign, in short, would be 
to make familiar to everyone the life and 
work of a Waac, and especially the good 
side of that life. 

Accordingly, Young & Rubicam hastily 
prepared advertisements that pictured the 
interestingjobs Waacs did; they devised 
quizzes with many small pictures and 
questions; and, believing that women were 
inveterate coupon clippers, they inserted 
small coupons that could be mailed to re- 
cruiting stations for free literature. At the 
same time there was assembled an array 
of supporting talent that dwarfed previous 
efforts. Among others, the Writers' War 
Board pledged co-operation — Rex Stout, 
Clifton Fadiman, Paul Gallico, Margaret 
Lee Runbeck, Sarah Elizabeth Rodgers, 
Katherine Brush, Laura Z. Hobson — 
each to write articles to reach a different 
type of national magazine and audience. 
Ten writers of this board were flown to 
Fort Oglethorpe and other stations to 
gather material. 

Famous photographers were asked to 
take pictures for picture magazines. In 



addition to stories, many magazines 
agreed to use a WAAC cover girl — the 
July American, the August Cosmopolitan and 
others. The May Reader's Digest had a 
story; Life used pictures sent from North 
Africa; the August Harper's Bazaar showed 
WAAC physical training in its least terri- 
fying aspects; a June Saturday Evening Post 
began a five-part serial. Through the 
co-operation of the Office of War Infor- 
mation, radio time was obtained, includ- 
ing plugs on shows by Bob Hope, Kate 
Smith, and others. Daily papers got news 
stories and pictures, and Sunday papers 
carried paid advertisements. Motion pic- 
tures also were contributed, by both Holly- 
wood and the Signal Corps. All of these 
various media were co-ordinated through 
WAAC Headquarters in order to main- 
tain the same theme throughout. 68 

To co-ordinate recruiters' efforts with 
the advertising campaign, there set out 
from Washington a flying task force which, 
traveling by plane, train, and subway, 
achieved the apparently impossible feat of 
a two-day conference with each of the nine 
Service Commands in sixteen days. 69 
These included representatives of Young 
& Rubicam to describe the campaign, of 
General Motors to initiate expert sales 
training methods, and of The Adjutant 
General's Recruiting Publicity Bureau to 
display their newest wares of posters and 
booklets. 

The conferences were generally well re- 
ceived, although, said Major Edlund, "The 
Army Personnel connected with recruit- 
ing didn't quite understand what this was 
all about and perhaps resented it a little 

oe (1) Ltr, Iiq 2d SvC to Dir WAAC, 15 May 43 . 
SPWA 334 with Min of mtg. Also, Min cited |n. 41 [ 

B!i The First, Second, and Third Service Commands 
met together in New York. Exhibit A to Memo, 
WAAC Hq for CofAdm Serv, 24 Apr 43. SPWA 341 
(4-5-43). 



188 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



bit. We had to make sure that they realized 
we were perfectly friendly and honest 
about the whole thing and that the main 
purpose was to help them do the job they 
had been asked to do with insufficient 
help." 70 Instead of scolding about unfilled 
quotas, Edlund congratulated them on the 
60,000 women already recruited. "In 
Canada they have been going much 
longer and have less. In England they had 
to come to conscription." Even the Waves, 
he said, were having difficulty in getting 
the relatively small number they were 
then aiming for. 

Major Edlund had made the decision 
not to separate the Army Recruiting Serv- 
ice and the WAAC Recruiting Section, 
although events were to prove that it 
would have been wiser to adopt at once 
General Ulio's plan of removing all 
authority from the regular Recruiting 
Service, since such action eventually 
proved necessary. 

Major Edlund's keynote, later deplored 
by veteran WAC recruiters, was, "Let's 
turn the bright side of the apple toward 
the general public." He proposed that pic- 
tures and releases all feature the most in- 
teresting jobs and the best-looking Waacs, 
and that Waacs not be pictured driving 
heavy vehicles, or in fatigue uniforms, or 
doing strenuous calisthenics, or even 
marching, since this frightened away 
many desirable prospects. This approach 
was supplemented by Young & Rubicam's 
advertisements with captions such as, 

"We're the luckiest girls in the world and 
we know it." 

"I joined to serve my country and am hav- 
ing the time of my life." 

"I felt pretty important when that tailor 
fitted that swank new uniform to me." 

Such advertisements, while calculated 
to counteract previous misunderstandings, 



were also sufficient to bring on howls of 
derision from veteran Waacs, and to call 
forth complaints from later recruits who 
enlisted while under their spell. 

The Cleveland Plan 

Time was now working against the 
salesmen. The various surveys, the prep- 
aration of advertisements, and the flying 
tour had been accomplished in the un- 
precedented space of little over a month. 
Nevertheless, only six weeks remained to 
get the scheduled 100,000 women by 1 
July. Major Edlund therefore determined 
upon a saturation technique of salesman- 
ship that would literally hunt out and 
carry off potential recruits in a house-by- 
house canvass in major cities. He imme- 
diately began a demonstration campaign 
in a typical city. Cleveland, Ohio, was 
selected for the trial, and WAAC re- 
cruiters from every service command 
gathered to assist and observe. 71 The basic 
idea was that WAAC sales could be 
achieved only by personal interview, and 
not by rallies, bonfires, and previous tac- 
tics, of which Edlund said, "Everything 
that we could see being done [before] was 
a big rally or parade — a lot of talk mostly 
along patriotic lines and 80 percent of the 
people listening were not eligible to 
join." 72 

The Fifth Service Command ran the 
Cleveland Campaign, although Major 
Edlund had desired to do it. Theoretically 
such a campaign should have been pre- 
ceded by a softening-up barrage of news- 
paper and radio publicity, but Cleveland's 



7(1 Speech by Maj. Edlund. Min cited |iTT"3 5{2% 

71 Cleveland was chosen because it was a represen- 
tative large city, 52 percent of homes had telephones, 
and the Cleveland Advertising Club offered to help. 

72 Speech cited n. 70. 



RECRUITING 



189 



publicity media were busy "trying to buy 
a ship or something," and WAAC re- 
cruiters were obliged to land without pro- 
tection. Since there were not enough 
WAAC recruiters in the nation to conduct 
a door-to-door survey in a city of this size, 
the Cleveland Plan called for the use of 
any civilian agency that had many women 
members in a city-wide organization. The 
American Red Cross was deemed the 
oldest and best organized, but when asked 
to assist, its officials replied that the Red 
Cross was "interested only in essential war 
work"; later they added that their charter 
did not permit help. The Office of Civilian 
Defense (OCD) therefore volunteered to 
assist, although its Block Plan was newly 
organized and its leaders inexperienced. 73 

The WAAC recruiters held meetings 
with the OCD sector leaders and supplied 
them with literature and questionnaires, 
which were passed on to block leaders. 
These leaders were not to attempt to enroll 
women, but only to locate eligibles. The 
final report stated that "block workers 
were most co-operative. Reports were that 
many women at home seemed to be wait- 
ing for someone to ask them to do some- 
thing in the war effort. . . . The majority 
attitude represented complacency." These 
block leaders were soon able to furnish re- 
cruiters with the name and location of 
each eligible woman in the district. 

WAAC enlisted women next went to 
work at a battery of telephones, trying to 
persuade each eligible to grant an inter- 
view to recruiting officers. These Waacs 
were especially trained by the Ohio Bell 
Telephone Company. They were in- 
structed not to try to recruit, but merely 
to get an interview; when and if an inter- 
view was obtained, WAAC recruiters 
called on the prospect. The Realsilk 
Hosiery Company donated expert train- 



ing in the technique of polite interviewing. 
All who still appeared eligible were urged 
to enlist, and those who seemed undecided 
were placed on a follow-up list. 

The Cleveland Plan, supported by the 
nationwide publicity campaign, seemed 
the most intensive recruiting effort that it 
was possible for any organization to make. 
When the drive was finished and the score 
counted, it stood revealed as a miserable — 
almost an incredible — failure. The score 
was: 74 



Families contacted 73,589 

Questionnaires completed 36, 15 1 

Considered eligible from questionnaire 1 2,886 

Found eligible on contact 8,253 

Signed applications 427 

Enrolled 168 



To achieve even the mere 100,000 female 
recruits that the Army needed imme- 
diately, recruiters would, if this rate held 
true, have to contact 43,800,000 families, 
although the nation was estimated to have 
only about 37,000,000 families. Interviews 
and sales talks would have to be held with 
almost 8,000,000 eligibles before 100,000 
could be recruited. There were probably 
not that many qualified women in the 
United States. 75 

The Cleveland method, refined and 
improved by experience, was caught up 
and used all over the nation. Improve- 
ment in recruiting machinery continued. 
All summer the great radio and press cam- 
paign played upon the public. More and 
better-trained recruiters were thrown into 



7 J This and the following arc from a mimeographed 
booklet, WAAC Recruiting Plan, Cleveland, Ohio, 
June 1-10, 1943. SPWA 341. 

71 Memo, Asst Chief, WAC Rctg Serv, for Exec 
WAC. sub: Resume of Rpt from 5th SvC, 4 Aug 43. 
SPWA 341 (1942). 

75 The Bureau of the Census in a Statistical Ab- 
stract estimated 37,100,000 families in 1944, in a civil- 
ian population of 126,606,000. 



190 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



the battle. And still, amazingly, the num- 
ber of qualified applicants fell. Finally, in 
August, the exhausted recruiters sus- 
pended their efforts to await completion of 
the conversion to Army status — the final 
hope. In this month only 839 recruits were 
enrolled — not enough to make up for 
normal attrition. 

At last the full extent of public opposi- 



tion stood revealed to the WAAG recruit- 
ers — an impenetrable wall against which 
the methods of supersalesmanship and ex- 
pert recruiting techniques broke and fell 
ineffectually. It was not as yet fully under- 
stood why this wall had sprung up and 
solidified after the initial favorable public 
reaction, but it was all too clear that it had 
now done so. 



CHAPTER XI 



The "Slander Campaign" 



British experience in two world wars had 
indicated that any women's service soon 
after organization would become the tar- 
get of slanderous charges, which would 
lower morale, alarm parents, and make it 
impossible to secure a large corps except 
by drafting women. However, the WAAC 
had appeared to be relatively free of such 
charges during its first few months. It was 
therefore prematurely hoped that the 
American public had, since the early at- 
tacks on the Army Nurse Corps, outgrown 
the use of moral charges as a means of op- 
position to women in public life. 

Record of the WAAC's First Year 

This hope was sustained by the fact that 
the Corps' record, as it reached the mile- 
stone of its first birthday in May of 1943, 
remained good beyond even the highest 
expectations. Recruiting, training, and 
supply difficulties had had little if any ef- 
fect upon the efficiency of WAAC units in 
the field. The War Department, which 
had supported military status in advance 
of proof of WAAC efficiency, now found 
its action justified by all field reports. 
From North Africa, Gen. Dwight D. 
Eisenhower's headquarters expressed en- 
thusiasm for the performance of the first 
WAAC company and forwarded requests 
for hundreds more enlisted women, with- 
out whom, it was declared, it was "literally 
impossible to conduct effective administra- 



tion." The theater requested that these 
units "be given earliest priority . . . and 
shipped at expense of ground force re- 
placements." 1 Equally important for pub- 
lic opinion, both health and discipline in 
North Africa had been good, and there 
had been only one pregnancy, that of a 
married woman. 

From the secret antiaircraft artillery ex- 
periment, which was concluded about this 
time, came an official report that Waacs 
could fill more than half of the jobs in 
AAA units, and were "superior to men" in 
many operations requiring dexterity. 2 War 
Department files abounded in reports of 
sudden conversion, such as that of the post 
commander who informed Col, Frank U. 
McCoskrie that Waacs would be sent to 
his post only "over my dead body," but 
who, a few months after their arrival, was 
discovered to be not only alive but writing 
to Des Moines for two more companies. 3 
From other station commanders came 
similar indorsement. 4 The commanding 
general of a port of embarkation wrote, "I 
am greatly impressed with their discipline, 
intelligence, efficiency, and devotion to 

1 (1) ETOWAC Hist, p. 7. (2) Cbl W3105, 20Jun 
43. WAAC 320.2 sec 5. 

- Memo, G-3 for CofS, 7 Jul 43. WDGCT 291.9 
in CofS file and in MDW. 

:i Related by Col. McCoskrie of a post commander 
in the Sixth Service Command. 

1 (1) Project 24, WAAC Planning files (1943). (2) 
Army Fact Sheet. Women in Uniform, 10 May 43, 
WDBPR. WAAC Hist files (3) Dorothy D. Bromley, 
New York Herald Tribune, July 11, 1943. 



192 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



duty. They have raised the standard of 
discipline of the command." Similar com- 
ment was received from the Signal Corps, 
Air Forces, Adjutant General's Depart- 
ment, and service commands, respectively: 
"Proved its value in hundreds of depart- 
ments"; "Their work is splendid"; "look- 
ing forward to receiving more Waacs"; 
"highest type of intelligence and apti- 
tude"; and so on. 5 

An Army Service Forces inspector in 
May of 1943 reported, after a visit to 
Waacs in the field: 

My impression in general of WAAC per- 
sonnel is: 

1 . They are doing a fine job in the training 
center. . . . 

2. They are performing the jobs to which 
assigned . . . in an excellent manner. 

3. The officers and enlisted personnel with 
whom the Waacs work are more than satis- 
fied with the efficiency and manner in which 
the women perform their tasks, as well as 
their attention to military courtesy. 

4. The WAAC personnel is happy and do- 
ing a fine job. 

5. The conduct of the WAAC personnel 
both on the job and after working hours is 
satisfactory. . . . The using people heartily 
endorse the use of Waacs and want to know 
when they are going to get more. 8 

Remarks of service commanders at a con- 
ference in July of 1943 likewise indicated 
that they were unanimously satisfied with 
their WAAC personnel and had experi- 
enced no noteworthy difficulties except in 
recruiting. 7 

A newspaper commented in July, near 
the first anniversary of the Des Moines 
school: 

The life history of the Waacs reads like the 
proverbial American success story. At their 
inception they were offered a chance to make 
good at only a handful of noncombatant jobs 
then considered suitable for women. Within 
little more than a year they had proved so ef- 
fective that the Army now urgently asks that 
their ranks be increased to 600,000. 8 



In the summer of 1942 only four jobs 
had been authorized for Waacs; in the 
summer of 1943 Waacs were already fill- 
ing 155 different Army jobs, and the num- 
ber was increasing daily. In 1942 it had 
not been supposed that the WAAC's range 
of usefulness would require assignment 
other than to the Army Service Forces; in 
mid- 1943 Waacs were already assigned to 
every major Army command in the 
United States and to two active overseas 
theaters ; they were stationed in forty-four 
of the forty-eight states. In 1942 the admis- 
sion of women even to auxiliary status ap- 
peared risky; in 1943 the War Department 
entertained no further doubts about the 
wisdom of full integration of women into 
the Army. 9 

General Somervell noted, in commend- 
ing General Faith, "The excellent disci- 
pline, military courtesy, and appearance 
of the Women's Army Corps . . . are 
equalled by few and surpassed by no other 
group in the Armed Services." 10 

Statistical records in May of 1943 
showed that, in spite of the brief lapse in 
recruiting standards, Waacs still surpassed 
in qualifications both the civilian average 
and that of Army men. The "average" 
Waac at this time was a mature woman, 
25 to 27 years old, healthy, single, and 
without dependents. She was a high school 
graduate with some clerical experience. 
According to information derived from 

5 Quotations in Ltr, Dir WAAC to Edith Nourse 
Rogers, 26 May 43. SPWA 000.7. 

3 Rpt, Lt Col Hal P. Crane, GSC, to MPD ASF, 12 
May 43. SPWA 319.1. 

7 Min of Conf, CGs of SvCs, Chicago, 22-24 Jul 43. 

s Washington Post, July 10, 1943. 

" Mimco Sheets, 10 Jul 43, 142 Spec Jobs and 406 
Suitable Jobs, and 9 Jul 43, 155 WAACJobs and 
Over 400 Others Suitable. 

10 Memo, Somervell to WD Decorations Bd, 15 Jan 
44, sub: Award of DSM to Brig Gen Don C. Faith. 
Personnel Abstracts, WAC files, OCMH. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



193 



psychiatrists' interviews, she was inspired 
to enter the WAAC chiefly by a desire to 
do war work of a more active and respon- 
sible nature than was generally possible to 
a woman in civilian life. Of the small 
number of her eligible American sisters 
who were similarly inspired to the extent 
of getting an application blank, she was 
the one in three who completed it, after 
which she had survived tests and inter- 
views that eliminated half of her fellow ap- 
plicants. Before shipment to her job in the 
field, she had cost the Army only four 
weeks of basic training but no specialist 
training, which had not, for the average 
woman, proved necessary to successful as- 
signment. On the men's AGCT test, she 
made an average score of 109. At her field 
station, she accepted assignment to routine 
clerical work although she would have 
liked to drive a truck. She had not yet 
been promoted, and her rank remained 
that of auxiliary (private), at $50 a 
month. 11 She constituted a permanent and 
reliable type of employee, not being sub- 
ject to transfer to combat duty, nor to the 
usual causes of turnover in civilian per- 
sonnel. 

From the public viewpoint the Corps' 
moral record was even more important 
than its job efficiency. Statistical records 
indicated that, even with the brief lapse in 
standards during February and March, 
enlisted women's morality exceeded the 
civilian average. The WAAC rate of 
venereal disease was almost zero; many 
WAAC units had not experienced a single 
case, while training centers generally en- 
countered only cases that had been unde- 
tected by faulty enlistment examinations. 
Even including cases existing before en- 
listment, the incidence in the WAAC was 
far below that of either the Army or of 
women in civilian life. As for pregnancy 



among unmarried women, the rate in the 
WAAC was about one fifth that among 
women in civilian life. This record was 
even better than that reported in 1942 by 
the British women's services, which was it- 
self better than that of British civilian 
women. 12 

However, by May of 1943 it was 
already known within the War Depart- 
ment that the American corps, in spite of 
its actual record, was not to escape the 
traditional fate of slanderous attack, which 
became familiarly known to the Depart- 
ment's investigators as the "Slander Cam- 
paign," sometimes also called the "Whis- 
pering Campaign" or "Rumor Cam- 
paign." The slander campaign was, as its 
name implied, an onslaught of gossip, 
jokes, slander, and obscenity about the 
WAAC, which swept along the Eastern 
seaboard in the spring of 1943, penetrated 
to many other sections of the country, and 
finally broke into the open and was recog- 
nized in June, after which the WAAC and 
the Army engaged it in a battle that lasted 
all summer and well into the next year 
before it was even partially subdued. 

Publicity Machinery 

It was WAAC Headquarters' belief at 
the time that full and early publicity on 
the record of the WAAC's first year might 
have prevented what followed. However, 
during the period when the slander cam- 
paign took shape and gained momentum, 
it was the policy of the War Department 



11 Unless othervvise stated, all statistics in this and 
the following section are from two manila-bound 
typed booklets: (1) Info on WAAC, the Director's 
personal book of statistics, in the 1943 WAAC files, 
and (2) WAAC Pe rs Statistics, 6 Sep 43, 1943 WAAC 
files. See [Table 3| Appendix A, for a breakdown of 
WAAC statistics. 

' - Conditions in the Three Women's Services, pp. 4-9-52. 



194 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Bureau of Public Relations to permit no 
specialized attention to the WAAC. There 
was no central agency charged with secur- 
ing and releasing the true record and 
statistics of the Corps' first year; news 
stories on WAAC life were generally lim- 
ited to those which news media secured 
and presented for clearance. The Bureau's 
Radio, Press, Pictorial, and Publications 
Branches all handled WAAC news re- 
leases separately and without co-ordina- 
tion of policy. 

General Marshall and others evidently 
supposed that there existed some central 
publicity group for the support of recruit- 
ing; as late as January of 1944 General 
Marshall addressed a memorandum to the 
"WAC Recruiting Section, Bureau of 
Public Relations, "although there was ac- 
tually no such agency. VJ 

To make up for the lack of a publicity 
campaign from the Bureau of Public Rela- 
tions, the Director attempted to bring 
enough WAAC public relations personnel 
into her own office to supply good material 
to news media and guide them toward de- 
sired policies. For this purpose, she was 
allowed a small Office of Technical Infor- 
mation (OTI), such as other administra- 
tive services had, chiefly designed to check 
releases for technical inaccuracies but not 
to promote publicity. In the WAAC's first 
months the Director requested a larger al- 
lotment for this office, on the grounds 
that the WAAC must recruit personnel 
and was the object of more "extraordinary 
public interest" than other administrative 
services. The Services of Supply refused 
this request on the grounds that men's or- 
ganizations, such as the Chemical War- 
fare Service, did not have a larger allot- 
ment. 

Even had more personnel been allotted 
it, the WAAC OTI was not allowed by the 



Bureau of Public Relations to handle pub- 
licity. In April of 1943, the OTI appealed 
to the bureau for permission to contact ed- 
itors directly to get more accurate and 
positive articles in magazines and journals, 
since the "personnel shortage" in the bu- 
reau had apparently made it impossible 
for that agency to achieve the desired re- 
sults. In reply, the Bureau of Public Rela- 
tions published a directive that all in- 
quiries concerning the WAAC received by 
WAAC Headquarters would be referred 
to the Bureau of Public Relations, and 
that inquiries received by the bureau 
would be handled by it without reference 
to the WAAC except by telephone. 

The extent to which the WAAC OTI 
was allowed to influence the bureau's de- 
cisions was limited; in June, General 
Surles reminded the Director by personal 
letter that when his Review Branch asked 
any OTI for comment, it desired only 
views on security and accuracy, and not 
opinions on method of presentation or 
tone. 14 Projects originated by the WAAC 
were frowned upon; thus, when the Direc- 
tor desired to use the WAAC Band on a 
radio program, the bureau vetoed the idea 
on the grounds that "publicity is moving 
along very well and the orderly procedure 
of it should not be disturbed too often by 
special appearances." 15 

Under this system, press comment on 
the WAAC varied. Many newspapers 
faithfully and favorably reported all that 
was furnished them, although this was not 
plentiful enough to build public knowl- 



13 Memo, CofS for WAC Rctg Sec WDBPR, 26 Jan 
44. CofS 324.5 WAC. 

14 (1) Memo, Dir Pers SOS for CofAdm Serv, 20 
Nov 42. SPGAO 322.5 WAAC, in SPWA 020. (2) 
Memo, WAAC OTI for WDBPR, 21 Apr 43. Vol. 
Policy, WAAC Hist file, SPWA 314.7. 

13 Memo, "TS" for Dir WAAC, 15 Aug 42. SPWA 
311.23. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN' 



195 



edge and acceptance to a degree that 
would insulate the WAAC against the 
later rumors. Certain anti-Administration 
newspapers from the beginning made the 
WAAC the subject of caustic comment, 
evidently regarding the Corps as a New 
Deal creation. Even in the most favorable 
press, there was a natural tendency for 
"news" to consist of those items amusing 
or spectacular enough to reach reporters 
directly, such as stories headlined, stork 

PAYS VISIT TO WAAC NINE DAYS AFTER EN- 
LISTMENT, 16 or, ARE WOMEN PERSONS? DE- 
BATED BY HOUSE VETERANS COMMITTEE. 17 

There was also a tendency for headlines to 
include the word WAAC in reporting all 
accidents, murders, suicides, and family 
troubles involving a member of the Corps; 
a headline that might more properly have 
read army officer tried for bigamy be- 
came, instead, wac bridal brings trial. 18 
Even when friendly newspapers arranged 
for visits of their own reporters and pho- 
tographers or foreign correspondents, the 
results frequently tended toward the coy 
or frivolous rather than a serious emphasis 
on actual WAAC jobs. ' 9 

Also, from the first, cartoonists had 
found the WAAC amusing and had con- 
tributed caricatures which ranged from 
light humor to emphasis on anatomical 
detail. Of these, a training center com- 
mandant protested to WAAC Headquar- 
ters: "There seems to be no restraint on 
funny papers and cartoons with the 
WAAC as subject matter." He was in- 
formed that "legally there is nothing that 
can be done to restrain cartoonists from 
caricaturing the WAAC." 20 

The more extreme actually were seldom 
commercial cartoons, but were more often 
soldier products from camp newspapers, 
which held with rather monotonous lack 
of originality to the idea that the best way 



of ridiculing a woman was to exaggerate 
those portions of her figure that differed 
from the masculine version. Although pe- 
culiarly masculine garments were not con- 
sidered funny, the mere depiction of a 
brassiere, empty or otherwise, was alone 
enough to seem comic to cartoonists.' 1 

Certain clergymen had also published 
their protest against the Corps as an im- 
proper place for young Christian women. 
Of these, the Catholic chaplain at Fort 
Des Moines wrote : 

It is unfortunate that the few clergymen 
who have sounded off against the Corps get 
so much publicity, while the thousands I 
know who are in favor of it get little or no 
publicity- ... I have had to have three 
masses every Sunday — about 1.400 Waacs 
each Sunday. 22 

Attacks by Private Letter and Gossip 

These relatively minor cases of poor 
published and broadcast publicity or ill- 
chosen humor bore little resemblance in 
degree of virulence to the slander cam- 
paign which followed, and which had an 
entirely different character. The first man- 
ifestations of a deeper change in public 
opinion came early in 1943, when there 
began to be evidences of more vicious at- 
tacks on the Corps spread by word-of- 
mouth gossip and by private letter. Some 
of these were merely the "nut" letters that 
any organization might expect; quite often 
these included miscellaneous charges of 

1,s Washington Times-Herald, May 1, 1943. 

17 Washington Evening Slur, February 3, 1943. 

18 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, August 8, 1945. 

1Si For WAAC clippings, sec Vol. IV, WAAC Hist 
tile, SPWA 314.7 (1942-43). 

2 " Ltr, Comdt 5th WAAC Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 
3 May 43, with atchd comment. SPWA 319.1. 

- 1 Malvina Lindsav, in Washington Post, July 17, 
1948. 

-'- Ltr, Chaplain Urban J. Baer, Ft Des Moines, to 
Dir WAAC, 9 Dec 42. SPWA 3 19.12. 




VHiT HUES TOJ THTHS THE WAAC IS COHIRO TO THIS C6MPT 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



197 



vice in the armed forces, or attacks on "the 
people in the White House" for permitting 
card playing and drinking by soldiers. 23 

Some letters were more dangerous than 
their character warranted. A typical ex- 
ample was a letter from an Army nurse to 
an Arkansas radio evangelist, which be- 
gan, "I am a Christian and a member of 
the . . . Church and hate sin as bad as 
anyone." She then alleged that Waacs at 
training centers were lined up naked for 
men medical officers to inspect, that no 
sheets were used on examining tables, and 
that medical officers showed Waacs pic- 
tures of naked men and of men sitting on 
toilets. She concluded, "Christ loves these 
girls and I know he does not like for them 
to have to line up naked and it is embar- 
rassing for our girls every month. Please 
send me your book The Truth About the 
Mark of the Beast, also Satan's Children." 

The radio evangelist naturally became 
indignant and wrote his senator, saying 
that he intended to warn Arkansas parents 
and, "I am not going to permit Arkansas 
to become a Socialist State under the New 
Deal." He also sent copies of the letter to 
the governor, the Secretary of War, and 
three editors. 24 Upon the senator's request, 
an Army inspector general flew to Arkan- 
sas, launched a full-scale investigation, 
and discovered that none of the allegations 
was true and that the nurse in question 
was currently hospitalized with a diag- 
nosis of mild psychoneurosis; she had also 
written similar letters about the Army 
Nurse Corps. 

This, of course, was merely one of hun- 
dreds of such letters; the WAAC seemed 
to be a favorite target of mentally unbal- 
anced persons. Unfortunately, although 
disproof for such allegations was readily 
available, it did not always reach all who 
had heard the charges. 



Other scattered reports indicated that 
the WAAC was also encountering gossip 
and animosity from more responsible ele- 
ments of the population. This was particu- 
larly true around all training centers, 
where numbers of Waacs were so great as 
seriously to inconvenience civilian users of 
streetcars, shops, and beauty parlors. An 
Army Service Forces inspector noted that, 
while Des Moines merchants and civic 
leaders had offered much co-operation, 
certain citizens were displeased, and 
added : 

It seems that any dislike of WAAC person- 
nel is not caused by disorderly or promiscu- 
ous conduct, but rather by the fact that the 
WAAC personnel, in the strength superim- 
posed upon a city the size of Des Moines, 
makes it appear that they take over the town 
at such times as they are free, particularly 
Saturday and Sunday, which causes some 
amount of inconvenience. . . . 2o 

Investigation at Des Moines by the 
Army's Military Intelligence Service was 
unable to discover any basis for such dis- 
like except "resentment on the part of 
local citizens ... to the presence of 
strangers who they feel are usurping the 
old settlers in restaurants, stores, theaters, 
and hotels." 25 The Director of Intelli- 
gence, Seventh Service Command, after 
investigating Fort Des Moines, said "It 
was conclusively determined during the 
course of the investigation that the morals 
of the members of the Corps are excep- 
tionally and surprisingly good." 27 He 

a;i Photostat of anonymous Ltr to SW, 9 Jun 43. 
MID 322.12 WAAC (6-9-43) (6-1 1-43) 

2J (1) Ltr, Lt S., ANC, to Rev. James MacKrell, 
Little Rock, Ark., 18 Jan 44, and atchd. Hobby files. 
(2) Memo, CG ASF for TIG, 2 Feb 44, with 3d Ind 
SGO to TIG, 9 Mar 44. SGO Hist DLv Ct file 
322.5-1. 

25 Rpt citedQTjO 

Memo. Chief CIC, MIS, for Maj Gen George V. 
Strong (G-2), 19 Jul 43. G-2 MID 322.12 WAAC. 
Ibid., Des Moines Sec. 



198 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



pointed out, however, that one example of 
WAAC misconduct in a bar would create 
much more gossip than identical conduct 
by scores of local civilian women. 

As WAAC companies spread to the 
field, similar local animosity was some- 
times noted near these units. For example, 
USO facilities and Stage Door Canteens 
at times discouraged or prohibited attend- 
ance by Waacs, defending this action by 
saying that Waacs broke rules by going 
outdoors with men between dances, which 
hostesses could not do. Waacs felt that they 
were not welcomed simply because USO 
hostesses were not interested in raising the 
morale of military personnel except of the 
marriageable variety. 28 

The Civilian Uniforms 

Another variety of gossip began to 
plague the WAAC perhaps more than any 
other in the spring of 1943. It arose from 
the fact that the public began to attribute 
to the WAAC certain misconduct which, 
upon investigation, proved to be that of 
civilian women in near-military uniforms. 
For example, an Army recruiting officer in 
Louisiana reported that Waacs, probably 
on leave from the Fifth Training Center, 
were drinking heavily in Shreveport bars 
and taking men to their hotel rooms. In- 
vestigation by the provost marshal re- 
vealed that the women in question were 
indeed conducting themselves as stated; 
they were not Waacs but "a group of 
women ordnance workers wearing a uni- 
form identical with that of the WAAC 
except for insignia." 29 The Women Ord- 
nance Workers, better known as WOWS, 
were civilian employees of Army Ord- 
nance; although the majority of such em- 
ployees did not wear uniforms or miscon- 
duct themselves publicly, a certain number 



caused rumors in all parts of the country. 
For instance, Ninth Service Command 
and AAF authorities in California both 
protested to the Director that some of the 
Wows were drinking to excess and engag- 
ing in barroom brawls, and being mistaken 
for Waacs. Investigation disclosed that the 
Wows at Stockton Ordnance Depot were 
wearing khaki shirts and skirts, garrison 
caps, and enlisted men's or officers' in- 
signia. 

The ordnance depot, after the investi- 
gation, ordered removal of Army insignia, 
but allowed retention of the uniform, 
which was optional with such workers all 
over the nation. Their winter uniform was 
of olive-drab elastique, like a WAAC offi- 
cer's except for patch pockets and garrison 
caps; they also wore depot sleeve patches 
and miniature shields and ordnance in- 
signia. Being civilian workers, they were 
under no restrictions as to conduct, hours, 
or neatness. 

The same ordnance depot, like hun- 
dreds of other Army installations, also 
employed civilian women drivers who 
were allowed to wear khaki shirts, slacks, 
and garrison caps, with sleeve patch and 
shield insignia. The same region in Cali- 
fornia also had a civilian volunteer group, 
the Women's Ambulance and Defense 
Corps of America, which had a khaki uni- 
form with Army insignia of rank and the 
letters WADC on a sleeve patch; these 
women, however, were forbidden by their 
bylaws to drink in uniform. 

2S (1) Rpt, Stf Dir 4th AF, 2d SvC, and others, Min, 
Stf Dirs Conf, Chicago. 15-17 Jun 43. SPWA 337 
(6-1-43). (2) Ltr, Dir WAC to all Stf Dirs, 13 Mar 43, 
incl Ltr from Mrs. Eliot Gross. SPWA 250.1 (3-12- 
43). 

28 Ltr. 8th SvC to Dir WAAC, 3 Apr 43, incl com- 
ment of Maj Warner Bishop, Ft Humbug, Shreveport, 
La. SPWA 250.1. WAAC Headquarters, suspicious 
of this address, investigated and found Fort Humbug 
a legitimate Army district. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



199 



The Ninth Service Command investiga- 
tors, after study of uniforms of the WOWS, 
women drivers, and WADC, concluded 
that the public was undoubtedly taking all 
of them for Waacs, unless they investigated 
insignia and button design closely. 30 

This was only the beginning of what 
seemed to be an attempt by every woman 
in America to get herself into a military 
uniform without the inconvenience of sub- 
jecting herself to WAAC discipline. Civil- 
ian clerical workers in many Army offices 
bought officers' "pink" skirts and olive- 
drab jackets with gold buttons. The Civil 
Air Patrol women were authorized by the 
AAF, without clearance from WAAC 
Headquarters, to wear WAAC uniforms 
with red braid and silver buttons. Even 
the WAAC "Hobby Hat" was not sacred; 
secretaries at Valley Forge Military Acad- 
emy wore a close copy, with a uniform 
almost indistinguishable from a WAAC 
officer's. When WAAC authorities pro- 
tested this to the academy, they were 
informed by the professor of military 
science and tactics that the uniform was 
not at all similar since the skirt had a pleat 
and the buttons had the academy crest 
and not the WAAC eagle. At Fort Devens 
a soldier's wife was found wearing a 
WAAC uniform with gold U.S. Army 
buttons and her husband's insignia; she 
said the uniform was one that "they sold 
in Philadelphia" to girls whose husbands 
were in the service. 31 

Eastern stores advertised a "junior 
WAAC uniform" in sizes up through 14. 
guaranteed to be "an exact copy of the 
real WAAC uniform." The Quartermas- 
ter General informed the Director that its 
sale was not illegal, although its wearing 
by an adult might be, depending on cir- 
cumstances. 32 A New York manufacturer 
supplied dress shops all over the country 



with a uniform quite similar to the Waacs', 
advising them: 

stake your claim. There is a vast new 
field open for you in selling to the army of 
Women Volunteer Workers — Air Raid Ward- 
ens — Minute Men — Canteen Workers — 
USO and scores of others, all doing their 

PART AND ALL WANTING TO DRESS THE PART. 33 

It was doubly annoying to WAAC Head- 
quarters that these concerns were able to 
get olive-drab and khaki cloth in the early 
months when The Quartermaster General 
was still unable to get it for WAAC uni- 
forms. 

These department store uniforms were 
bought and worn not only by volunteer 
workers but by scores of organized prosti- 
tutes in Eastern cities. Staff Director Jess 
Rice of the Third Service Command, 
working with the provost marshal, gath- 
ered and forwarded to WAAC Headquar- 
ters irrefutable evidence of this practice. 
The streetwalkers, known as Victory 
Girls, were discovered in Harrisburg, 
Newport News, Baltimore, and other 
cities, wearing uniforms of material and 
cut very similar to the WAAC's. One was 
apprehended by military police while try- 
ing to buy a furlough-rate railroad ticket. 
Another was discovered when authorities 
checked a report that a WAAC officer was 
drunk in a disreputable Harrisburg hotel. 
The proprietress of a Baltimore clothing 

30 Ltr, Dir WAAC to 9th SvC, 4 Jun 43, sub: Un- 
authorized Wearing of Uniform, and Ind. SPWA 
250.1. 

31 (1) Ltr, TAG to CG AAF, 10 Aug 43, sub: 
Authorization of WAAC Uniform for CAP Pers. 
SPWA 421. (2) Ltr, 4th SvC to 3d SvC, 26 May 43, 
sub: Valley Forge Mil Academv, Wayne, Pa., and Ind. 
SPWA 250.1 (4-3-43). (3) lst'lnd, WAAC Stf Dir to 
Dir WAAC, 1 1 Aug 43, to Memo, Chief of PM Br 3d 
SvC for Capt Rice, 1 1 Aug 43. SPWA 250.1 (4-3-43). 

32 Ltr, WAAC Hq to Legal Div OQMG, 14 May 
43, and Ind. SPWA 421. 

33 Photo adv, Evelyn Alden Fashions, 134 W. 37th 
St., New York, incl with Ind cited n. 3 1 (3). 



200 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



store claimed that she was doing a good 
business in sale of these uniforms and "de- 
sired to know if she was doing wrong in 
selling them." 34 

At the Hampton Roads Port of Em- 
barkation, the camp followers, dressed in 
khaki skirts and shirts, were so bold as to 
wait outside the gate, claiming that they 
were Waacs and picking up soldiers as 
they left the port. Here, the commanding 
general ordered the enrolled women to pin 
their insignia on the collars of their cotton 
shirts, at that time contrary to uniform 
regulations, so that they could be distin- 
guished from prostitutes in khaki shirts 
and skirts. 35 

Gathering together all these examples, 
Director Hobby requested the Army Serv- 
ice Forces to amend Army regulations so 
as to forbid the civilian use of WAAC uni- 
forms and insignia, or that of any insignia, 
buttons, and clothing which very closely 
resembled the WAAC items. She also 
asked that the Quartermaster Corps and 
Army Exchange Service co-operate in dis- 
couraging manufacturers of these uni- 
forms. Since the Army controlled the 
manufacture and sale of all material used 
in commercial manufacture of Army offi- 
cers' uniforms, it could, by withholding 
material, force most manufacturers to 
cease wasting it in the production of non- 
military uniforms. 

However, the Army Service Forces 
rejected the Director's idea, saying that it 
would be too difficult to enforce and that 
the Quartermaster Corps and the Ex- 
change Service already co-operated with 
manufacturers of male officers' uniforms, 
so that no new instructions to them were 
necessary. The ASF added "Due to the 
fact that the WAAC is a comparatively 
new corps, the casual and uninformed ob- 
server is apt to believe that every woman 



in o. d. uniform is a Waac. It is believed 
that this situation will be overcome in due 
course." 3(5 

The Quartermaster General soon after- 
ward authorized the lend-leasing of 5,000 
WAAC winter uniforms, left surplus by 
the collapse of recruiting, to the French 
"WAAC" in North Africa— at that time a 
part-native corps without military organ- 
ization. The Director shortly received a 
flood of derogatory letters from soldiers, in 
parts of North Africa where there were no 
Waacs, who nevertheless alleged that 
Waacs were disreputable in both appear- 
ance and conduct, wore earrings and 
bobby sox with uniforms, also long hair 
down their backs, and obeyed no military 
commands. 37 

The Organized Rumors 

By late spring, even before the Cleve- 
land Plan was launched, rumors were 
more widespread, more consistent, more 
vicious, and the tempo of their occurrence 
had quickened. Director Hobby and War 
Department officials now began to suspect 
that Axis agents had taken over the spo- 
radic stories and were systematically 
spreading certain definite rumors in an 
attempt to discredit and wreck the WAAC 
and thus impede the Army's mobilization. 
This theory was supported by the fact that 
the onset of the more vicious rumors fol- 
lowed immediately after the Congressional 
hearings in March of 1943, in which Army 



M Memo cited |n. 31(3)1 

" Rpt, Stf Dir HRPOE. Min, Stf Dirs Conf, Chi- 
cago, 15-17 Jun 43. SPWA 337 (6-1-43). 

36 (1) 2d Ind, 19 Aug 43, to Memo cited In. 31(311 
(2) D/F, MPD ASF for Dir WAAC, 1 Sep 43, atchd 
to same. 

:)7 2d Ind, OQMG for Reqmts Div ASF, to Memo, 
Dir WAAC for Reqmts Div ASF, 16 Nov 43, sub: 
Redesigning of WAC Cap. SPWA 421. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



201 



leaders had asked Army status for the 
WAAC and had emphasized that thou- 
sands more women were sought to allow 
more men to be sent to strengthen the 
fighting front. The Waacs already ob- 
tained, it was said, would release for com- 
bat a number of men equal to that which 
had just defeated the Germans in North 
Africa. 

As early as 18 May 1943, Director 
Hobby wrote to General Grunert that 
"there have been many indications of an 
organized whispering campaign directed 
against the WAAC" and asked investiga- 
tion. The Army Service Forces sent the 
request for an investigation to G-2 Divi- 
sion, General Staff, which in turn sent it to 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, claim- 
ing that it was out of the Army's jurisdic- 
tion. 38 

By early June, the situation was so far 
out of control that G-2 Division reversed 
its stand and requested the FBI to allow it 
to act. In a letter to the FBI, G-2 Division 
said: 

Consequent to the formation of such a 
women's auxiliary to any of the military serv- 
ices, a certain amount of indecent humor was 
to be expected. However, the inevitable so- 
called humor first has been supplemented 
and subsequently has been replaced by a 
circulation of plainly vicious rumors . . . 
what appears to be a concerted campaign 
has assumed such proportions as seriously to 
affect morale and recruiting. 39 

Supporting evidence for this view was 
plentiful. An identical rumor appeared 
almost simultaneously in New York, 
Washington, Kansas City, Minneapolis, 
and other cities, to the effect that large 
numbers of pregnant Waacs were being 
returned from overseas. Camp Lee, Vir- 
ginia, was swept suddenly by the report 
that any soldier seen dating a Waac would 
be seized by Army authorities and given 



medical treatment. A widely repeated 
rumor circulated at Hampton Roads to 
the effect that 90 percent of Waacs had 
been found to be prostitutes, 40 percent of 
them pregnant. In the Sixth Service Com- 
mand an apparently organized rumor ap- 
peared in many localities to the effect that 
Army physicians examining WAAC appli- 
cants rejected all virgins. In Philadelphia 
a "War Department Circular" with ob- 
scene anatomical "specifications" was 
reproduced and widely circulated, finally 
being found even in the foxholes of New 
Guinea. From Florida there came numer- 
ous identical stories that Waacs openly 
solicited men and engaged in sex acts in 
public places. 40 

One favorite theme for these organized 
rumors was that Waacs were issued pro- 
phylactics or were required to take such 
items with them when they left the bar- 
racks, so that they could fulfill the "morale 
purposes" for which the Army had really 
recruited them. It was this story that 
finally brought the whole slander cam- 
paign into the open. Until this time, Army 
and WAAC authorities had felt it wiser to 
ignore all rumors, since to deny any pub- 
licly would merely have given them greater 
circulation. However, on 8 June 1943, the 
charge that Waacs were issued prophylac- 
tics was made in a nationally syndicated 
column, "Capitol Stuff," in the McCor- 
mick chain of newspapers, by a columnist 



38 (1) Memo, Dir WAAC for Dir of Adm ASF, 18 
May 43, with ind evidence; (2) 1st Ind, ASF for G-2, 
22 May 43; (3) 3d Ind, G-2 for ASF. G-2 MID 322.12 
WAC (5- 18-43). 

■ v " Ltr, G-2 to FBI, 9 Jun 43. G-2 MID 322.12 
WAAC (6-11-43). 

411 (1) Weeklv Intelligence Bull, MID, 1 1 Jun 43. 
G-2 MID 322. 1 2 WAAC. (2) Memo, AAF Hq for Dir 
WAC, 5 Apr 45. WDWAC 330. 14. (3) Exhibit D, Rpt, 
CIC to MIS, 19 Jul 43, sub: Origin of Rumors Con- 
cerning WAAC. G-2 MID 322.12 WAAC (6-11-43). 




THE PRESIDENT AND MRS. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT visit the Wanes in 
the spring of 1943. Above, Mr. Roosevelt reviews the troops at Fori Oglethorpe, Georgia. Below, 
Mrs. Roosevelt with Director Hobby and Col. John A. Hoag, commandant of First WAAC 
Training Center at Fort Des Moines. 




THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



203 



who had continuously opposed Adminis- 
tration measures. It was noted that in the 
weeks preceding the appearance of the 
column Mrs. Roosevelt had visited the 
Waacs at Des Moines and the President 
himself had reviewed those at Fort Ogle- 
thorpe, after which he had informed the 
press that "those of us who have seen the 
work they are doing . . . have only ad- 
miration and respect for the spirit, the 
dignity, and the courage they have 
shown." 41 

On 8 June the column stated: 

Contraceptives and prophylactic equip- 
ment will be furnished to members of the 
WAAC, according to a supersecret agree- 
ment reached by high-ranking officers of the 
War Department and the WAAC Chieftain, 
Mrs. William Pettus Hobby. ... It was a 
victory for the New Deal ladies. . . . Mrs. 
Roosevelt wants all the young ladies to have 
the same overseas rights as their brothers and 
fathers. 42 

There was actually no truth in the 
statement. The Army did provide free 
prophylactic equipment for men, and it 
appeared theoretically possible that some 
station in the field might have attempted 
to apply the same rule to women. How- 
ever, the most thorough investigation by 
Army operatives from G-2 Division failed 
to produce any such evidence. These 
operatives reported: 

There is apparently no factual basis for the 
. . . charge that contraceptives and prophy- 
lactics are issued to WAAC personnel. It is 
indicated that these articles are not even gen- 
erally purchased in Post Exchanges and drug 
stores by individuals in the WAAC; in all 
cases of recorded sales the purchasers have 
been married women. 43 

It was G-2's opinion that the "super- 
secret" document referred to was a War 
Department printed pamphlet for the 
WAAC, Sex Hygiene, which prescribed six 



lectures to be given WAAC officers and 
officer candidates, to equip them to give 
their women a suitably modest version of 
the Army's required hygiene course for 
men. 44 This was, however, an unsensa- 
tional document, part of the routine train- 
ing course, which prescribed standard 
subjects no more radical than those given 
in high schools and colleges — feminine 
anatomy and physiology, the nature and 
dangers of venereal disease, and the facts 
about menstruation and menopause — and 
which said nothing whatever about the 
issue of contraceptives. Its wording had in 
fact been carefully reviewed by the Direc- 
tor, and its presentation limited to trained 
WAAC officers, because of the British ex- 
perience: 

Exaggerated rumors appear to have gath- 
ered about hygiene lectures in the forces. . . . 
The mental reaction of a girl unaccustomed 
to attributing precise meanings to words, and 
bewildered by the impact of new and unfa- 
miliar terms, must be kept in mind. 45 

G-2 described the pamphlet as "an ex- 
cellent, frank, and wholesome manual . . . 
[which] counsels continence." 46 It defi- 
nitely did not authorize any issue of con- 
traceptives, and did not even tell the 
women what they were or how to use 



41 (1) Des Moines Register, February 15, 1943, and 
AP release, February 17, 1943. (2) Press Release, 15 
May 43, signed Stephen Early. Envelope. Roosevelt, 
F, D., Statements by, WDBPR file of WAC Gp. (3) 
Text on new application form for enlistment, 3 1 May 
43. SPWA 062.1. 

42 Washington Times-Herald, June 8, 1943. 

" Memo, G-2 for Dir WAAC, 21 Aug 43, sub: 
Origin of Rumors Concerning Waacs. G-2 MID 
322.12 WAAC (6-1 1-43). 

» WD Pamphlet 35-1, 27 May 43, Sex Hygiene 
Course, Officers and Officer Candidates, WAAC. 

j3 Conditions in the Three Women's Services. 

*» Memo, Chief CIC for Gen Strong (G-2), 23 Jun 
43, sub: Prelim Rpt on WAAC. MID 322.12 WAAC 
(6-11-43). 



204 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



them. This, just published on 27 May 
1943, could have been the "agreement" 
mentioned in the 8 June column, although 
it was not "supersecret" or even secret or 
confidential but merely restricted to mili- 
tary personnel. Save for this, G-2 found 
that no directives on the subject had ever 
been issued by WAAC Headquarters ex- 
cept one letter in May, in answer to an 
inquiry, which said definitely that Waacs 
would not be given even so much as in- 
struction in the use of prophylactics, much 
less the prophylactics themselves. 47 

War Department Denial 

The War Department thus was in an 
excellent position to force the columnist to 
retract his statement. The question was 
whether it would be wise to lend the affair 
the dignity of a formal War Department 
denial. Many of the Director's advisers 
counseled against it, pointing out that per- 
sons would read the denial who had never 
read the attack, and that the present dis- 
tress, anger, and humiliation experienced 
by the Director and all other Waacs would 
in time be forgotten. On the other hand, 
the shock which the column had caused 
the Waacs and their families was so great 
that an immediate denial seemed neces- 
sary to preserve the faith and self-respect 
of the Corps. An Army officer described a 
typical reaction in the WAAC company 
on his post: 

It raised hell with that company. Long dis- 
tance calls from parents began to come in, 
telling the girls to come home. The younger 
girl? ajl came in crying, asking if this disgrace 
was what they had been asked to join the 
Army for. The older ones were just bitter 
that such lies could be printed. It took all the 
pride and enthusiasm for the Army right out 
of them. 48 



An enlisted' woman described the same 
reaction; she said: 

I went home on leave to tell my family it 
wasn't true. When I went through the streets, 
I held up my head because I imagined every- 
body was talking about me, but when I was 
at last safe inside our front door, I couldn't 
say a word to them, I was so humiliated — I 
just burst out crying, and my people ran and 
put their arms around me and cried with me. 
I couldn't understand how my eagerness to 
serve our country could have brought such 
shame on us all. 18 

Director Hobby herself, when she gath- 
ered her staff to tell them what had hap- 
pened, broke down and was unable to 
continue speaking. The severity of the 
reaction of all Waacs, in whatever ranks, 
could be explained only by the fact that 
all, at this date, were the early pioneers 
whose enlistment had been motivated by 
a perhaps impractical idealism, intense 
enough to sustain them through the supply 
and training problems of the first winter, 
but too intense to receive such a gross 
attack with the indifference its inaccuracy 
merited. 

Director Hobby therefore made the de- 
cision to reassure the women and their 
parents by public denials, whatever the 
effect on newspaper readers. Such denials 
were thereupon immediately made by the 
President and Mrs. Roosevelt, by Secre- 
tary of War Henry L. Stimson, by General 
Somervell of the Army Service Forces, by 
members of Congress, and by Director 
Hobby and other WAAC officers. The 
President told his press conference that it 
was a "deliberate newspaper job" and that 
the reporter had merely taken orders 

~ 7 Ibid., with incl Ltr, WAAC Hq to CG 2d SvC, 14 
May 43. SPWA 726 (5-6-43). 

48 Inter v with Joseph A. Bourdow, 9 Aug 48, then 
of Ft Washington AGO Sch. 

Sgt Amelia Madrak, Hist Div SSUSA, secy of 
author, 1947. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



205 



"from the top." 50 Mrs. Roosevelt in her 
press conference on 8 June stated that 
rumors about misconduct among Waacs 
in North Africa were Nazi propaganda, 
and that "Americans fall for Axis-inspired 
propaganda like children." - 11 Naturally, 
she said, the Germans were interested in 
discrediting an organization that released 
so many men for the fighting front. 52 

Secretary Stimson's denial was the most 
publicized, and did in fact reach many 
people, especially on the west coast, who 
had never heard of the columnist or the 
rumors : 

Sinister rumors aimed at destroying the 
reputation of the Waacs are absolutely and 
completely false. Anything which would in- 
terfere with their recruiting or destroy the 
reputation of the Corps, and by so doing 
interfere with increase in the combat strength 
of our Army, would be of value to the enemy. 
The repetition of any unfounded rumor . . . 
is actually an aid to the enemy. 

He pointed out that reflection on the 
WAAC was reflection on the whole of 
American womanhood, and that to malign 
the nation's women could easily destroy 
the morale of men at the front. 53 

In addition, General Somervell told a 
Congressional committee that the rumors 
were spread by a person sympathetic to 
the Axis and that the Waacs were "your 
and my daughters and sisters" and entitled 
to respect. 54 Representative Edith Rogers 
told Congress that "nothing would please 
Hitler more" than to discredit Waacs and 
American women. Representative Mary 
Norton said, "Loose talk concerning our 
women in the Armed Services cannot be 
less than Nazi-inspired." 55 Director 
Hobby told reporters that there was "ab- 
solutely no foundation of truth in the 
statement." 

Under the barrage, the columnist was 



forced to retract his statement, which he 
did, although protesting that his informa- 
tion came from an "intelligent and trust- 
worthy" official who swore that "his eyes 
had passed over" the alleged secret pa- 
per. 56 Nevertheless, three years later, re- 
ligious publications were still to be found 
reprinting the story, and actually attribut- 
ing the columnist's lines to Director 
Hobby. Director Hobby's picture was 
labeled "Astounding Degeneracy," and 
one article continued, "Mrs. William Pet- 
tus Hobby, chieftain of the WAC, says, 
'Contraceptives and prophylactics will be 
furnished to members of the WAC accord- 
ing to a super-secret agreement reached 
by high-ranking officers of the War De- 
partment. . . .' " 57 

Investigation by Intelligence Service 

In June, a full-scale investigation of pos- 
sible Axis influence in the rumors was 
launched by the Army's Military Intelli- 

50 Washington Post, June 30, 1943. 

51 Washington Daily JVews, June 9, 1943. 

52 PM (New York), June 10, 1943. 
5:1 Washington Post, June 1 1, 1943. 
54 Ibid., June 16, 1943. 

ss Both in the Washington Evening Star, June 10, 
1943. 

56 "Capitol Stuff," June 10, 1943. The columnist 
later insisted he was vindicated when, in 1945, Time 
alleged the Army had declared surplus the remains 
of a stock of contraceptive jelly. He did not check far 
enough to discover that such jelly, if it existed, would 
have been sold in any Army PX, where Waacs formed 
an almost microscopic fraction of female customers, 
who included soldiers' wives and other authorized 
purchasers. In fact, upon investigation, Army officers 
were unable to locate any such stock of contraceptive 
jelly as reported by Time. Transcript of Tp Conv, Maj 
Chance and Mr. Marples, WDBPR. WD WAC 331.1 
(1945-46). 

57 (1) The Evangelical Beacon, Vol. XIV, No. 22, Feb- 
ruary 27, 1945, incl to Ltr, AAF PDC to Air WAC 
Div, 20 Sep 45. WDWAC 330. 14. (2) Ltr, Mrs. F. D. 
Roosevelt to Dir WAC, 25 Oct 44, incl Ltr from voter 
re religious magazine of alleged 1,500,000 weekly 
circulation, The Missionary Worker. WDWAC 330.4. 



206 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



gence Service. The Federal Bureau of 
Investigation gave the Army full permis- 
sion, in this one instance, to investigate 
persons who might otherwise fall under 
the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI. 58 

A more exhaustive investigation could 
scarcely have been made than that which 
Military Intelligence now undertook. 
First, Army agents covered sections of the 
nation near large WAAC installations, 
such as training centers. At Des Moines, 
for example, more than 250 interviews 
were held with a cross section of the local 
citizens, in an effort to expose the source of 
the rumors. Next, specific stories all over 
the nation were tracked down to their be- 
ginnings, each involving a large file of 
notes and records. 59 

The report reached a conclusion far less 
pleasant than the theory of Nazi activity: 

There is no positive evidence that rumors 
concerning the morality of WAAC personnel 
are Axis-inspired. There is some evidence 
that the Axis-controlled radio has followed a 
line of rumors already widely circulated 
by . . . Army personnel, Navy personnel, Coast 
Guard personnel, business men, women, factory 
workers and others. Most . . . have completely 
American backgrounds. 60 

Evidence indicated that in most cases 
the obscene stories had been originated by 
men of the armed forces at about the time 
of the change from the "phony war" to 
real combat in North Africa, and of Con- 
gressional publicity on the thousands of 
women sought to release men for combat. 
From Army and Navy men, the stories 
had spread rapidly, first to their wives 
and women friends, and thence to the 
whole population. Eventually the rumor 
spreaders included, according to G-2 
secret files: 

(1) Army personnel: "Army officers and men 
who resent members of the WAAC . . , who 



have obtained equal or higher rank than 
themselves." "Men who fear they will be re- 
placed by Waacs." "Male military personnel 
who are sometimes inclined to resent usurpa- 
tion of their long-established monopoly." 
"Soldiers who had never dated Waacs . . . 
[or] had trouble getting dates." 

(2) Soldiers' Wives: "Officers' wives over 
bridge tables." "Women whose husbands are 
shipped overseas." 

(3) Jealous Civilian Women: "Local girls and 
women who resent having the Waacs 
around." "Younger to middle-aged women 
who deplore the extra competition." "Women 
who ordinarily participate in community 
enterprise and who are losing publicity as a 
result of women in uniform." 

(4) Gossips: "Thoughtless gossiping men 
and women." "Men [who] like to tell off- 
color stories." 

(5) Fanatics: "Those who cannot get used 
to women being any place except the home." 
"Those whose rabid political convictions 
cause them erroneously to see in the WAAC 
another New Deal creation." 

(6) Waacs: "Disgruntled and discharged 
Waacs." fil 

A typical example of an unfounded 
rumor that spread in the standard pattern 
was the case involving a Midwestern city 
and the surrounding area. In this city, 
agents reported, enlisted men and officers 
in bars had begun the rumors with state- 
ments of which the more printable in- 
cluded, "Waacs are a bunch of tramps"; 
"All Waacs have round heels"; and 
"Waacs are nothing but prostitutes." In 
small towns nearby, officers' wives soon 

~ ,R Memo cited [nTTT] Also, Ltr, J. Edgar Hoover to 
Col Leslie R. Forney, MIS, 30 Jun 43. G-2 MID 
322.12 WAAC (6-11-43). 

** Specific references will be given in each case in 
following paragraphs. The entire file of the summer's 
investigation is found in G-2 files, MID 322.12 
WAAC. 

60 Memo cite d! n. Ol Author's italics. 

(il (1) Memo, Chief CIC, MIS, for Gen Strong, 13 
Aug 43, sub: Closing Rpt on Investigation of Rumors 
Concerning WAAC. MID 329.12 WAAC. (2) Memo 
cited pT~7rr| (3) Memo cited ln. 461 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



207 



afterward stated to friends that Waacs 
were really taken into the service to take 
care of the sex problems of soldiers. An 
Army chaplain then advised Waacs not to 
re-enlist in the WAC. The rumors spread 
to Protestant and Catholic ministers in the 
vicinity, who then urged Waacs to get out 
of the service. These were investigated by 
the FBI for sedition in urging desertion. 

Agents were not able to verify even one 
case of pregnancy of an unmarried Waac 
in that area, or any other notorious mis- 
conduct, 62 

In New England, especially in the Fort 
Devens area, agents found that a number 
of stories about mass pregnancy, venereal 
disease, and immorality had originated 
with military personnel. The G-2 report 
added: 

Military personnel, commissioned and en- 
listed, were found to be a prolific fountain- 
head of WAAC rumors. Soldiers who had 
never dated Waacs, and consequently didn't 
know whether the stories were true, accepted 
the tales as gospel. Army nurses are allegedly 
jealous of the Waacs because the latter are 
promoted more rapidly, receive more public- 
ity, and encroach on the nurses' dating ter- 
ritory. The wives of men replaced by Waacs 
are said to be angry because their husbands 
are sent overseas as a result of the Waacs sup- 
planting them. No subversive intent is 
apparent in either case. 

Soldiers in the Fort Devens area were 
credited by investigators with originating 
the rumor that "fantastic" numbers of 
pregnant Waacs had been sent back to 
Lovell General Hospital from North 
Africa. Agents descended on that hospi- 
tal's records "without prearrangement" 
and reported, "No record of a pregnant 
Waac was found." In fact, no Waacs preg- 
nant or otherwise had ever been returned 
from North Africa to Lovell General Hos- 
pital. Another Fort Devens'.rumor among 



military personnel was that the WAAC 
venereal disease rate was skyrocketing. 
When 6.000 women were examined, only 
1 1 cases were discovered, 8 of them having 
existed before enlistment and having been 
undetected by entrance examinations. 
This, agents said, was a rate which was 
"less than any civilian community." A 
third rumor in New England was that 
Waacs were officially advised to utilize 
contraceptives. Agents interviewed hun- 
dreds of Waacs and were unable to find 
even one who had ever been so advised; 
the Catholic chaplain also asserted that no 
Waacs in the area had ever to his knowl- 
edge been given such advice. 63 

In the Fort Des Moines area, where 
Waacs had been longest, rumors were not 
so vicious; the attitude of male military 
personnel, originally quite hostile, had re- 
portedly upon closer acquaintance taken 
a marked change for the better. The Di- 
rector of Intelligence, Seventh Service 
Command, concluded, "It is obvious that 
the Corps members, by force of their own 
composite opinion, do much to enforce 
proper conduct and freedom from even 
the appearance of evil on the part of other 
members." 64 

Agents at Fort Des Moines reported 
that no soldier could be found who had 
ever had sexual intercourse with a Waac; 
in fact, most had trouble getting a date. 
Sales of contraceptives at local drug stores 
had not gone up. Waacs drank less in pub- 
lic than civilian women, and it was found 
that "merchants agree Waacs are more 
courteous and patient, meet obligations 
more readily." All interviewed who knew 
Waacs placed the sexual morality of the 



62 Memo tited |n. K1(1T1 

e '' Ibid., Ft Dev ens ar ea sec. 

61 Memo cited |n. 26,| Ft Devens area sec. 



208 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



average member as higher than that of the 
average civilian girl. Nevertheless, a rela- 
tively few instances of drunkenness and 
misconduct had made a proportionately 
greater impression on local citizens. Since 
Waacs originally did not have to wear uni- 
forms off duty, local citizens also showed a 
tendency to consider any drunken woman 
a disguised Waac, until training center 
authorities forbade wearing of civilian 
dress in the Des Moines area. 65 

Near the Fifth Training Center, a Capt. 
Charles S. wrote a Waac friend that he 
had heard there were 165 "pregnated" 
Waacs in one month at Camp Polk, and 
that before members went out on passes 
they were required to show that they had 
contraceptives with them. When asked for 
proof by Military Intelligence, Captain S. 
was, agents said, "much chagrined and 
embarrassed." BS 

In the area around Fort Oglethorpe, 
Georgia, agents reported evidence that 
rumors had been spread by men who re- 
sented WAAC rank or who thought they 
would be shipped overseas as soon as 
enough Waacs could be recruited to re- 
place them. Local girls and women had 
picked up the rumors; one admitted to 
agents that she had spread stones which 
were not true but that, "I just get tired of 
seeing them around." A rumor about 100 
pregnancies was traced to the local 
WCTU. Again, statistics failed to support 
the charges. Of 14,000 women trained or 
processed since the training center opened, 
three had been hospitalized for drunken- 
ness, and eight had venereal disease, which 
agents described as a "negligible" percent- 
age of cases compared to civilian rates. 
Hotel owners and the director of the 
Chamber of Commerce said Waacs con- 
ducted themselves better than civilian 
girls. 67 



Investigation at Daytona Beach 

The most extensive training center in- 
vestigation was conducted at Daytona 
Beach, where the Second WAAC Training 
Center and General Faith's headquarters 
had operated in the midst of a resort city. 
In January Director Hobby had renewed 
her attempts to get the women out of the 
city area, and in March the Services of 
Supply approved construction of class- 
rooms and one theater but again refused 
to approve construction of recreational 
buildings. 68 

As a result, large numbers of recreation- 
seeking Waacs descended on the city 
nightly, provoking much civilian resent- 
ment and some of the most serious allega- 
tions encountered by investigators. At 
first these objections concerned only the 
crowding and food consumption by 
Waacs: one winter resident, who described 
himself as "a lover of the locality and its 
facilities as an adorable resort," wrote his 
senator to denounce WAAC service as "a 
grand vacation at Government expense 
. . . the Army group monopolizes our few 
sizeable restaurants to the detriment of 
civilians." Investigators found that most 
such complaints came from about 15 per- 
cent of the local residents described as 
"well-to-do property owners . . . the 

Memo cited In. 26l Also (1) M/R. lOJul 43, Sum- 
mary of Investigation, sub: Origin of Rumors Con- 
cerning WAAC. G-2 MID 322. 1 2 (6-1 1-43). (2) Ltr, 
Col Hoag to Dir WAAC, 1 1 Jan 43, sub: Wearing of 
Uniform. SPWA 300.3 (12-7-43) sec 1 (Cont). (3) 
WAAC Cir 2, 28 Jan 43. (4) Ltr, WAAC Hq to Tng 
Ccns, 24 Feb 43, sub: Wearing of Uniform. SPWA 
300.3. 

«« Memo cited |n. 61(11 8th SvC sec. 

67 (1) Memo cited ln. 26.1 Ft Ogiethorpe Sec. (2) 
Ltr, MID 4th SvC to MID (Washington, D. C), 5 Jul 
43, sub: Origin of Rumors Concerning WAAC. G-2 
MID 322. 12 WAAC (6-1 1-43). 

GR Ltr, 2d Tng Cen to Dir WAAC, 8 Jan 43, and 
Inds. WA 600.1 (7-2-42)(l) sec 2 (1942). 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



209 



elderly conservative type." H " Another 
civilian criticism alleged that WAAC 
messes wasted food so that their garbage 
cans were filled to overflowing while 
Florida civilians went hungry under the 
administration's food rationing system. 
Instead, investigators found that the dis- 
posable garbage rate in WAAC messes was 
only half that of the Army rate; the local 
garbage collector, when interviewed, 
stated that what he found in WAAC gar- 
bage cans was far less than that from 
"civilian sources." 70 

Rumors nevertheless grew more vicious. 
It was said that WAAC trainees drank too 
much; that they picked up men in streets 
and bars; that they were registered with 
men in every hotel and auto court, or had 
sexual relations under trees and bushes in 
public parks ; that there was a nearby mili- 
tary hospital filled to overflowing with 
maternity and venereal disease cases. 
Finally, it was seriously stated that Waacs 
were touring in groups seizing and raping 
sailors and Coast Guardsmen. 71 

No evidence to support such statements 
could be found by military intelligence 
operatives, or by independent investiga- 
tions by the Fourth Service Command, or 
by Colonel Clark of WAAC Headquar- 
ters. 72 The alleged government maternity 
home was nonexistent; only 18 pregnan- 
cies had been discovered, 16 of them 
among married women; inspectors could 
get locally only hearsay and gossip but 
"no single piece of correspondence which 
would indicate any tangible item." 73 
Although the center had almost 10,000 
trainees, the military police report for a 
typical Saturday night revealed a total of 
only 11 delinquencies: 

2 kissing and embracing in public 

1 no hat on 

2 injured in auto accident 



1 without identification card 

1 walking with officer on street 

2 found intoxicated 
1 AWOL returned 

1 "retrieved from Halifax River in an in- 
toxicated condition" 

11 Total 

This was accounted a remarkable record 
in view of the fact that, among the thou- 
sands of women at the Second Training 
Center in this first week of May, 1943, 
many were the mental, moral, physical, 
and psychological problems that had been 
accepted in such large numbers before the 
restoration of recruiting standards. How- 
ever, it was admitted that rumors would 
naturally spread through the local civil- 
ians if even one Waac out of 10,000 had to 
be retrieved from the Halifax River every 
Saturday night. 74 

The inspectors and the local authorities 



68 ( 1) Ltr, Mr. Fred Huntress to Senator Claude 
Pepper, 3 Mar 43; (2) Memo, Geri Grunert for Dir 
WAAC, 23 Mar 43. Folder, Daytona Beach, Dir Adm 
Serv ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

70 For civilian complaints: (1) Memos cited | n. 61~ 
(2) File of Dir Adm Serv, with investigations, cited 
n. 72. 

71 Memos cited [fT~6Tn 

7 - ( 1 ) For MID investigation, see Memos cited n. 
|TJ(2) For Col Clark's, see Memo, Col Clark, Chief 
Opns Div WAAC Hq, for Dir WAAC, 27 May 43. 
SPWA 3 19. 1 . For others, see (3) Ltr, Mr. Harry Hop- 
kins to Brig Gen Frederick H. Osborn, 1 Mar 43; (4) 
Memo, Dir WAAC for TIG, 13 Mar 43, incl Ltrs 
from Senator Pepper and Gen White, SPWA 330.14 
(3-8-43)E; (5) Memo, Exec 2d WAAC Tng Cen for 
Comdt, 1 3 Mar 43; (6) Memo, Gen Faith for Dir 
WAAC, 18 Mar 43, SPWA 250.1; (7) TWX, Gen 
Grunert to DCofAdm Serv ASF, 19 Mar 43, WA-2 12- 
1 19-Govt Z; (8) Memo, DCofAdm Serv for Dir 
Reqmts Div ASF, 20 Mar 43, with approval by 
Reqmts Div, 23 Mar 43, SPAAS 353.8; (9) Memo, 
CofAdm Serv ASF for Dir WAAC, 23 Mar 43; (10) 
Various Ltrs from White House, Congress, citizens, 
et al., atchd to above. Folder, Daytona Beach, Dir 
Adm Serv ASF Sp Coll DRB AGO. 

7:! Rpt, CIC 4th SvC to MIS, 19 Jul 43, sub: Origin 
of Rumors. G-2 MID 322. 1 2 WAAC. 

« Ibid. 



210 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



unanimously blamed the location and the 
lack of recreational facilities. The area was 
described as the week-end mecca of sol- 
diers and sailors from surrounding mili- 
tary and naval stations. An Army inves- 
tigator observed, "From Saturday noon 
until midnight Sunday, Daytona Beach 
takes on an atmosphere of a large coedu- 
cational institution at which the home 
team has just won an important football 
game." 75 One officer reported, "It was a 
crazy idea to try to set up a Military 
Training Center in a place like this where 
the girls live in hotels and are surrounded 
by a carnival atmosphere." 78 

The Fourth Service Command inspector 
general recommended more recreation 
facilities so that trainees would not need 
to roam the city at night. The military in- 
telligence operative agreed: "It is the 
opinion of this officer that recreational 
facilities are inadequate." 77 Ninety per- 
cent of the women had, he said, stayed in 
their quarters and suffered low morale, 
while only about 10 percent were seen in 
the city, but this 10 percent totaled a thou- 
sand women. General Grunert, who in- 
vestigated in person, immediately tele- 
graphed his office: 

RECREATION FACILITIES AVAILABLE TO WAAC 
TRAINING CENTER HERE AT DAYTONA BEACH 
ARE SO GROSSLY INADEQUATE AS TO MAKE IT 
NECESSARY TO RECONSIDER THE QUESTION OF 
PROVIDING TWO SERVICE CLUBS. . . . PRESENT 
USE OF INADEQUATE CIVILIAN FACILITIES HAS 
RESULTED AND WILL CONTINUE TO RESULT IN 
COMPLAINTS AND RUMORS AS TO DRINKING AND 
IMMORALITY AND DEPLETION OF CIVILIAN FOOD 
SUPPLY. . . . TAKE UP THIS MATTER WITH 
COMMANDING GENERAL ARMY SERVICE FORCES 
AT ONCE FOR EARLY ACTION. 78 

Now, belatedly, Requirements Division, 
ASF, reversed its earlier disapprovals and 
approved Director Hobby's four-month- 
old recommendation for two service clubs, 



but the time required to bring them into 
operation was considerable, and in any 
event the damage was irretrievable. 79 

In addition, inspectors blamed some 
rumors at Daytona Beach on the conduct 
of female dischargees who remained about 
town "conducting a campaign against the 
WAAC." 80 General Faith noted that, in 
the weeks before recruiting standards were 
restored, about one half of 1 percent of the 
women sent him had previous records 
which warranted their immediate dis- 
charge, and that in addition another 4 
percent were guilty of "unseemly conduct 
. . . specifically, drinking, boisterousness, 
and petting in public parks and on 
benches." The remaining 95 percent he 
believed to be of exemplary conduct and 
discipline, a good statistical average for 
any civilian community. General Faith 
stated, "I am convinced that faulty re- 
cruiting is the primary cause of the condi- 
tions described." 81 

No matter how promptly such women 
were discharged, civilian gossip had op- 
portunity to multiply their numbers and 
to confuse the conduct of dischargees with 
that of trainees. WAAC military police at- 
tempted to take uniforms from dischargees 
who were wearing them for a purpose 
other than the official one of return to the 
place of enlistment, but in one such case a 
woman discharged for neurosis promptly 
ran screaming into the street disrobed, 
causing even worse public comment. 



75 Memo, Asst IG 4th SvC for CG 4th SvC, 9 May 
43, atchd as Exhibit B to Rpt cited |n~"7T1 
7(i Post Engr, in Rpt cited |n. 73[ 

77 Rpt riipri Kr ~rg 

7s TWX cited ln. 72(71 . 

79 Memos cited ln. '/2(H) and !'l(\m 

80 WAAC Cir 11,1 Oct 42, and correspondence in 
SPWA 420 (8-25-42), 1942. Army Regulations 
shortly superseded this circular. 

sl Memo cited fr. 72(6| , 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



211 



Colonel Clark, who investigated for 
WAAC Headquarters, said: 

Being considerably alarmed by rumors 
... I took the trouble to ascertain from the 
hospital records the true facts with regard to 
pregnancies and venereal diseases. These fig- 
ures are statistical and incontrovertible. . . . 
It will be seen at a glance that the experience 
of this center in this respect has been unusu- 
ally fortunate. ... It is extremely unfor- 
tunate that we have no recourse against these 
scurrilous and slanderous charges. s - 

The Army did have one recourse, and that 
was to abandon all city property — a move 
also dictated by the shrinking enrollment. 
At this, a local newspaper columnist cried: 

It may be that the present scare that the 
War Department would forego Daytona 
Beach . . . will close the traps of some of 
the scandal mongers. . . . Had it not been 
for the coming of the Waacs, Daytona Beach 
would by now have been a ghost town. 83 

In July, the Waacs gave up the leased city 
buildings and withdrew within the can- 
tonment area, and the local radio station 
broadcast, "Cool Daytona Beach can once 
again accommodate thousands of summer 
visitors." 84 

Other Investigations 

It was from overseas, where most sol- 
diers had not as yet seen a Waac, that the 
worst opposition came. The Office of Cen- 
sorship ran a sample tabulation and 
reported that, of intercepts of soldier mail 
which mentioned the WAAC, 84 percent 
expressed disfavor and most advised a 
woman not to join; some threatened to jilt 
or divorce her, as the case might be, if she 
did join. 85 

The only Waacs then overseas were 
some 200 in North Africa and about 600 
bound for England, but, according to the 



soldiers' reports, each must have been 
shipped home pregnant several times. A 
counterintelligence operative, sitting in a 
restaurant next to an Army major, heard 
him say loudly that the Army had sent "a 
whole boat-load" home and that it was 
"difficult to keep Waacs at any station 
over there for any length of time without 
fully two-thirds of them becoming preg- 
nant." 86 A civilian just returned from 
North Africa cautioned his women friends 
against joining the WAAC because of the 
low moral character of nurses and Waacs, 
but when pressed for facts was unable to 
furnish the names of any specific persons 
or places, and admitted he had no direct 
knowledge of the matter. 87 

One favorite rumor was that General 
Eisenhower had said that he didn't want 
Waacs "dumped on his command area." 
Foreign correspondents interviewed Gen- 
eral Eisenhower and found that he had 
not only requested Waacs but said he 
would get British servicewomen if Amer- 
ican ones were not sent. One reporter dis- 
covered that Waacs in North Africa lived 
in a convent under strict discipline, rose 
early to catch a 6:00 A.M. military bus to 
town, worked hard all day, securing en- 
thusiastic recommendations from super- 
visors, and retired to the convent for an 
8:00 P.M. curfew. He therefore failed to 
see how their night life could be very 
exciting. 88 

82 Memo cite d n. 72(2)1 

8 ! Daytona Beach Observer, May 22, 1943. 
84 July broadca st over Daytona Beach stations. Ex- 
hibit N, Rpt cite d In. 731 

83 Memo cited In. 4ol 

SB Memo, CID agent for Chief CIC, 16 Jul 43, sub: 
Dissemination of Rumors. MID 322.12 WAAC (6- 
11-43). 

" Memo ciled ln. 61(11 . 

ss John Lardner's syndicated column, June 10, 
1943. 



212 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Among all the comments reported in 
later samplings by the censors, who of 
course had no power to delete them, there 
were many praising the Corps and its 
work, but not one reported instance in 
which a man advised a woman to enlist. 89 
Typical soldier comments, from many units 
and from widely separated parts of the 
world, were: 

Wife of one of the men in my company 
joined the Wacs. She simply wrote and told 
him that, tired of living off the fat of the land, 
she had enlisted. With no further ado, the 
man wrote his father's attorney to institute 
divorce action . . . and is at present en- 
gaged in cutting off her allotments, changing 
insurance beneficiaries. . . . 

You join the WAVES or WAC and you are 
automatically a prostitute in my opinion. 

I think they are great organizations, but I 
don't want any wife, or future wife, of mine 
joining them. 

Are you going in the Wacs, Mother? If you 
did or do, I will disown you. 

Velva, please don't join the Wacs. I have 
good reasons for not wanting you to. I per- 
suaded my sister not to. Some day I'll tell you 
why. 

You ask me to tell you what I think of the 
Wacs and Waves with the idea of you joining 
in mind. Darling, that sort of puts me on the 
spot. If the idea of you joining were not in- 
volved, I would say that they have proven a 
proud, worthwhile part of our armed forces. 
. . . But from the standpoint of you joining 
is something else again . . . very emphati- 
cally I do not want you to join. 

I think it is best that he and Edith are sep- 
arating, because after she gets out of the serv- 
ice she won't be worth a dime. ... I would 
not have a girl or wife if she was in the service 
even if she was made of gold. 

Any service woman — Wac, Wave, Spar, 
Nurse, Red Cross — isn't respected. 

I told my Sis if she ever joined I would put 
her out of the house and I really meant it. So 
if you ever join I will be finished with you too 
and I mean it. 



I think it is enough to say that I am not 
raising my daughters up to be Wacs. 

It's no damn good, Sis, and I for one would 
be very unhappy if you joined them. . . . 
Why can't these Gals just stay home and be 
their own sweet little self, instead of being 
patriotic? 

I just spoke to a couple of officers one of 
whose wife was so smart she joined and then 
told him. To give you an idea of what officers 
think ... he told his wife to get a divorce. 
The other officer had to really tell off his 
daughter before she got such ideas out of her 
head. 

Darling for my sake don't join them. I 
can't write my reasons because the censors 
won't let it through. 

Honey don't ever worry your poor head 
about joining the Wacs for we went over all 
that once before, Ha! (Remember, over my 
dead body. Ha! Ha!) You are going to stay 
at home. 

I would rather we never seen each other 
for 20 years than to have you join the Wacs. 
For gosh sakes stay a good girl (civilian) and 
I'm not just kidding either. 

Ruth asked about the Wacs. The idea is 
noble but the widespread attitude of the pub- 
lic is narrow and bad. So I definitely don't 
recommend it. 

I don't want you to have a thing to do with 
them. Because they are the biggest houres (I 
hope this gets through the censor.) Lousey, 
boy, they are lousey, and maybe you think 
my blood don't boil and bubble. . . . God, 
I'd disown anybody who would join. 

The practice of women in the Army, still 
in my mind, is a glorified form of cheap 
bolshevism. 

Lets not say no more about the auxiliaries 
for the idea makes me mad in the first place 



89 Exception: one comment was found in which, 
toward the end of the war, a man stated that it would 
provide a woman friend with GI benefits for a few 
weeks' service before the Corps was demobilized. All 
soldier comments are from (1) NATO AG file 319.1 
Morale, Vols. II-V; (2) Morale Evaluation Survey in 
Women's Services, GHQ AFPAC, 16 Jun 45, in pos- 
session of former Staff Director, AFPAC. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



213 



and I don't want you galavanting around 
over the country for another thing. You will 
be better off chopping cotton. . . . 

Your letter shocked me so and it was not 
appreciated by no means. If you join the 
Wacs, you and I are through for good, and 
I'll stop all allotments and everything. 

I remember distinctly telling you before 
that your joining the WAC was one thing I 
would not tolerate. I told you distinctly that 
I didn't want to discuss it. Why do you 
persist? . . . 

The service is no place for a woman. A 
woman's place is in the home. 

About joining the Wacs the answer is still 
NO. If they really need service women let 
them draft some of the pigs that are running 
around loose in every town. 

When you asked me the first time whether 
you could join the Wacs I refused and I 
meant that for all time. I want to come home 
to the girl I remember. 

I cannot put this on paper how I feel and I 
am ashamed to tell my fellow officers. She 
cannot even consider herself as my wife from 
now on. I am stopping all allotments to her 
and am breaking off all contacts with her. 
Why she did such a thing to me I cannot 
understand. My heart is broken. 

Get that damn divorce. I don't want no 
damn WAC for a wife. 

In the last year of the war a censor sum- 
marized the situation: 

Comments on the WAC continue to reflect 
much credit on their ability. Their military 
bearing and adaptability to military life 
bring praise . . . [but] there is no indication 
of a lessening of U.S. troops' opposition to 
friends and relatives joining. WAC individ- 
uals indicate their disillusionment. 90 

In the spreading of rumors, the Waacs 
themselves were far from guiltless. Letters 
written home by disgruntled individuals 
frequently contained remarks about food, 
living conditions, and forced association 



with low and unsympathetic characters. 
For example, a young woman just arrived 
at a new station wrote her father: 

Dear Pop: 

Please don't show this letter to Mom. This 
place is like a concentration camp and the 
C. O. and the First Sergeant have driven one 
girl to suicide and three to going AWOL. The 
girl who went AWOL last night was a fine, 
clean girl, and when she refused to submit to 
her Boss he threatened to court-martial her 
on a trumped-up charge. A boy in Co. W. 
killed himself last night, I saw the note he left 
with my own eyes. Two Chaplains have gone 
AWOL this week and can't be found. Please 
don't worry. I'll stick it out as best I can, but 
it is leaving its mark. 

Somewhat naturally, her father sent this 
letter hastily to his congressman, who sent 
it to the Secretary of War, saying, "I have 
known her all of her life and have always 
found her to be honest, reliable, and trust- 
worthy." A formal investigation was im- 
mediately held, at which it was discovered 
that none of the allegations was true: 
"Complainant stated that she addressed 
the letter to her father while in a mood of 
depression following her arrival at Camp 
D . She acknowledged that the state- 
ments in her letter were based upon hear- 
say." 91 

The faulty recruiting techniques of the 
past months also resulted in receipt by 
civilians of long, incoherent letters from 
mentally disturbed individuals concern- 
ing persecution by officers, general mis- 
conduct among all officers and noncoms, 
or at least those who got promotions, and 
unwarranted punishments for the writer. 
Most alleged that they were sending copies 
to newspapers and friends. Investigation 



90 File cited |n. 

! " Ltr, Adm Asst to SW to Hon Michael Kirwan, 
25 Sep 45: Ltr, Hon Michael Kirwan to SW, 6 Jul 45; 
Ltr, [W r AC, Camp Davis], 6 Jul 45. CofS 324.5 WAC. 



214 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



of such cases ordinarily disclosed only that 
the writer "had great difficulty in adjust- 
ing to the military service," 92 or had just 
been discharged. 

With the approach of the conversion to 
the Women's Army Corps, many women 
deemed undesirable members of the com- 
pany were refused re-enlistment by their 
commanding officers; these included neu- 
rotics, behavior problems, and other 
troublemakers. Recruiters came to dread 
the return of one of these rejects to her 
community, knowing that she would prob- 
ably spread ridicule and falsehoods about 
the Corps. 93 

The Question of Axis Influence 

Army intelligence agents at this point 
began to concentrate upon tracking down 
individual stories with, originally, the 
hope that Axis agents would be found at 
the source. In only one case was there any 
such Axis connection: this was the rumor 
about the return of thousands of pregnant 
Waacs from North Africa. When this was 
painfully traced to its beginning, it was 
found to be based on an actual incident in 
which the first three Waacs were shipped 
home, two sick, one pregnant, the latter 
having been for some years the lawful wife 
of an Army officer who had spent a leave 
with her a few months before. 

The Axis radio station DEBUNK then 
broadcast in English to North Africa the 
modest amplification that 20 Waacs had 
been returned for pregnancy. This broad- 
cast, however, was less effective than that 
of a Coast Guard lieutenant who told 
friends at the Capitol in Washington that 
he was a member of an armed guard 
which was required on a ship bringing 
back 150 pregnant Waacs "to keep some of 
the women from jumping overboard." On 



a train from Washington to New York, a 
Navy commander gave the number as 
300. By the time the figure was given in 
Minneapolis by a Navy enlisted man, it 
had reached 250,000. When questioned by 
the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Coast 
Guard lieutenant said, "It was spoken in 
jest." He was, the Navy said, then "ad- 
monished." The Navy commander had 
the misfortune to relate his story on the 
train to a man whose daughter was a 
Waac; this man took his name and wrote 
the Secretary of War. The Secretary of 
War asked the Secretary of the Navy for 
action. The commander then wrote the 
Waac's father, "The private conversation 
in which we engaged informally seems to 
have been seized on by you as the basis of 
some far-extending investigation, in which 
I do not intend to become involved." The 
War Department was not informed 
whether any action had been taken 
against the commander. 94 

No other cases showed even a trace of 
Axis influence. A typical case was that of 
an insurance salesman in Philadelphia 
who wrote an Army officer that WAAC 
conduct was deplorable. When military 
agents appeared in his office and pressed 
for details, he alleged that Waacs had at 
various times accosted him and his friends, 
entered his hotel room, and showed him 
contraceptives in their purses. He refused 
to give names of the men friends who he 

9 -' Ltr, Pvt Ruth F. Bolger to Dir WAC, 23 Jun 44, 
incl, with investigation, in Memo, Air WAC Off for 
Dcp Dir WAC, 18 Oct 44. WD WAC 330.14. 

91 Office Memo, 1st O Virginia Martin, Rctg Sec 
WAAC Hq, for Exec WAAC, 24 Jul 43. SPWA 319.1. 

(1) Memo, G-2 for Dir WAAC [WAC], 12 Aug 
43, sub: Origin of Rumors Concerning WAAC. G-2 
MID 322.12 WAAC. (2) Memo cite d n. 61 HI , sec re 
Lt Dix W. P., Coast Guard, and Comdr Neil B. W„ 
USN. Also, same file, Ltr, John W„ Jersey City, N. J., 
to SW, 30 Jul 43, with atchd Ltr, Comdr W. to Mr. W. 
(3) Ltr, SW to SN, 28 Jul 43. CofS files. 



THE "SLANDER CAMPAIGN" 



215 



said were present when the alleged offenses 
occurred. His neighbors were asked for 
opinions as to his reliability and described 
him as "not reliable," "know-it-all," "a 
blowhard." He was not an Axis agent. 95 

Miss Helen A., a businesswoman in 
New York City, wrote Army authorities 
concerning the disgraceful situation at the 

- Hospital of Jersey City, where, she 

alleged, there were 50 pregnant Waacs. 
When questioned by intelligence officers, 
she admitted that she had heard that story 
from a friend. Miss W. Miss W. said she 
had the information from another friend 
who was having a baby at the hospital and 
heard two nurses in conversation outside 
her door. However, Miss W. finally ad- 
mitted that the real source was a conversa- 
tion she had overheard between two un- 
identified women sitting at the next table 
in a restaurant. The hospital submitted 
four affidavits to show that no Waac, preg- 
nant or otherwise, had ever been there. 
Confronted with this evidence. Miss A. re- 
portedly said that she "regretted writing 
the letter." None of the individuals con- 
cerned were Axis agents. 96 

In South Dakota, a civilian woman who 
had been assisting recruiters told them 
that she could no longer help recruit 
women unless they took steps to see that 
no more Waacs were sent overseas "to be 
tempted." She had heard that 5,000 had 
just been sent home from England for 
pregnancy. Recruiters told her that she 
must be wrong, since there were not that 
many Waacs in England, but she replied 
that she had the facts from her son, Capt. 
Harvey H., a medical officer in England. 
Recruiters reported this to the Director, 
who promptly wrote to the European 
theater requesting that they call to 
Captain H.'s attention "the implications of 
such statements on American woman- 



hood." Scarcely was Captain H. threat- 
ened with court-martial in England than 
his father telephoned from South Dakota 
to tell the Director that the whole thing 
had been a misunderstanding. None of the 
family were Axis agents. 97 

One of the lengthiest investigations con- 
cerned a suspected Nazi in New Jersey, 
Hugo S., recipient of the Iron Cross 
and former Bund member. This individ- 
ual, working at his bench in a war plant, 
observed to fellow employees that 500 
pregnant Waacs had just arrived in New 
York from overseas. A fellow worker, 
whose daughter was a Waac stationed 
overseas, promptly knocked him down and 
reported him. Intelligence agents made 
every effort to prove that Mr. S. was act- 
ing as a Nazi agent in repeating this 
rumor, but were unable to do so. Several 
weeks before, Representative Daniel S. 
had risen in the Massachusetts legislature 
to make the same charge. He alleged that 
the story was told him by an Army medi- 
cal officer whom he refused to name, and 
the representative was not a Nazi agent. 6S 

Even when a rumor could be traced to 
its originator, there was no legal means of 
punishing loyal American citizens for 
gossip. An Axis agent, if proven such, 
could have been jailed had he spread 
identical stories with intent to hinder 
mobilization. Members of the armed 
forces could be punished only if it could 
be proved that they used their position to 



Memo. MIS for Dir MI. 3d SvC. 1 6 >n 43. MID 
322.12 WAAC (6-16-43) (6-1 1-43). 

66 Ltr, 2d SvC Hq to G-2, 22 Jul 43, sub: Origin 
of Rumors Concerning WAAC. MID 322.12 WAAC 
(6-1 1-43). Sec re Miss Helen A. and Miss W., New 
York. 

: " (1) Memo, Dir WAC for CG AAF, 6 Dec 44, sub: 
Rumors. VVDWAC 330.1 1. (2) Ltr, ETO Hq to ETO, 
17 Mar 45, sub: Rpt of Investigation. AG 333.5 
MPMGA, in WDWAC 330. 1 4. 



' Memo citec n. 61(1) 



216 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



spread false official information detri- 
mental to the war effort. Director Hobby 
reluctantly recommended such action to 
Waacs who reported, for example, that an 
instructor in an Army school had told his 
class that Waacs were "a prostitute 
Army," that an officer's wife had told 
everyone in a beauty shop that large 
numbers of Waacs were pregnant, and 
other such cases. Observing, "It is a bitter 
thing that this had to happen in the Army 
family," Director Hobby advised that in 
every such case the offender's name be ob- 
tained and a report made for investigation 
of the charges. 99 

The conclusion that Axis agents were 
not primarily involved was supported, 
after the end of the war, by captured Ger- 
man intelligence files. These indicated 
that German agents had collected news- 
paper clippings and other public an- 
nouncements, and were well aware of the 
Corps' strength and the plans to recruit 
more womanpower, as well as of the plans 
to place the WAAC in the Army. How- 
ever, there was no indication that the Ger- 
mans had placed secret agents on this 
project, as they had on others; apparently 
they were content with information 
gleaned from news and radio sources. If 
any orders had been given to spread 
rumors, they were not recorded. 100 

Ineffectiveness of Denials 

It proved all but impossible for a Waac 
to defend herself or the Corps against the 
various rumors. For example, a young 
recruiter, in her speeches to civic groups, 
attempted to spike the rumors by telling 
the absolute truth: not that all Waacs were 
angels, but that only one Waac in the area 
had ever been picked up by military 
police; only one out of many drank 



heavily; the local police chief reported 
"very little trouble"; only nineteen wom- 
en of thousands trained had ever been 
discharged for pregnancy and she "under- 
stood" that all nineteen were married. 
Spectators reported that "it appeared to 
give them more to talk about." 101 

At least one constructive countermeas- 
ure was put into effect by WAAC Head- 
quarters. A planeload of the most promi- 
nent leaders of the Catholic, Jewish, and 
Protestant faiths had been carried to Fort 
Oglethorpe and Fort Des Moines for a visit 
shortly before the newspaper columnist's 
attack. They were given opportunity to in- 
spect chapels, hospitals, clubs, and bar- 
racks, to talk to the staff and trainees, and 
to hold religious services. As a result, im- 
mediately after the attack, these clergy- 
men issued a signed statement to the 
newspapers, saying, "We feel that parents 
concerned about the moral and spiritual 
welfare of their daughters can be reas- 
sured. A hopeful harbinger of the new 
world is evidenced by the sacrificial con- 
tribution which American women are 
making through the WAAC. [It] will 
strengthen their character." Monsignor 
Michael J. Ready told the Waacs, "We're 
proud of you." Dr. Carroll C. Roberts 
wrote the Director, "We were all deeply 
conscious of the earnestness of the young 
women and the quiet dignity with which 
they carried out their work." 102 These 
statements were reinforced by articles and 



99 Min cited In. 28(11 

l0 " Sec F 22 d, "Frauen," Pol. 5, 2. Bd., Frankreich, 
FRA; file of German Intelligence, Army High Com- 
mand, G-2 Sec, Foreign Armies West, H 2/2. 

"" Memo. 2d O D. L. Meyer for PRO, 3d WAAC 
Tng Con, 7 Jun 43, sub: Rpt of Speech on Rumors by 
Rctg Off. SPWA 319.1. 

'"- (1) Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Military 
History of the Second World War: The Corps of 
Chaplains, p. 95, on ministrations to WAC. OCMH. 




CLERGYMEN VISITING FORT DES MOINES. They are accompanied by {left) 
Maj. Margaret D. Craighill, Col. Frank U. McCoskrie, and the Director of the WAAC. 



pictures in religious magazines by a 
group of religious writers and editors who 
received a similar plane trip. 103 

There was also some evidence that the 
newspaper blasts concerning Axis sympa- 
thizers, even though mistaken in where 
they placed their blame, had some effect 



(2) Releases in numerous papers; for example, Wash- 
ington Post, June 1 1, 1943. The group included Dr. 
Barnctt R. Bricker, National Jewish Welfare Board; 
Bishop W. W. Peels. Council of Bishops of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church; Rt. Rev. Msgr. MichaelJ. 
Ready, National Catholic Welfare Conference; Dr. 
Almon R. Pepper, National Council of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church; Dr. S. Arthur Devan, General 
Commission of Army-Navy Chaplains; Dr. Joseph C. 
Hazcn, Northern Baptist Conference; Dr. J. Quinter 
Miller, Federal Council of Churches of Christ; Dr 
William Barrow Pugh, Presbyterian Church; Dr. Car- 
roll C. Roberts, International Convention of Disciples 
of Christ. 



in convincing rumormongers that they 
might be aiding the enemy. 

Congressional committees were so 
alarmed by the rumors that, two days 
after the 8 June "Capitol Stuff" column 
appeared, they summoned Director 
Hobby to appear and bring statistics on 
the actual cases of pregnancy and venereal 
disease. After seeing these, they expressed 
a desire to be of assistance, and suggested 
that the Director publish the figures and 
some of the actual cases of rumor spread- 
ing, to prove to the public that WAAC 
morality was superior to that of civilian 
women. 104 One Congressional committee 
stated: 



M/R, 29 Apr 43, sub: Religion. SPWA 000.3. 
104 WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 10 Jun 43. 



218 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



The committee wishes to express its un- 
qualified endorsement of this organization 
. . . [and] feels constrained to voice its con- 
demnation in no uncertain terms of those 
who malign this splendid group of patriotic 
women. Certainly no self-respecting patriotic 
American would indulge in such a cowardly, 
contemptible, despicable course. 10 5 

Army commanders at many stations 
also immediately made their stand known 
to the troops; one stated to the men: 

We have gained aid and help from the 
women of America. If we do anything to 
make their lot uncomfortable or unhappy, if 
we fail to give them a maximum amount of 
respect, if we fail to behave always as gentle- 
men, we have not only lost a contribution 
towards winning this war, but we have also 
lost some of the finer qualities of manhood. 10 '' 

Others in Congress and elsewhere took 
the attitude that the stories were merely 
good clean fun and that the Waacs were 
spoilsports to object to them. According to 
a member from Alabama, WAAC stories 
were "like traveling salesman jokes" and 
he looked upon them as "the way this 
country keeps its sense of humor." 107 Gen- 
eral Marshall was later to suggest that 
responsible Army officers might be able to 
distinguish between clean fun and a dirty 
joke by asking themselves if the stories 
would appear equally funny if circulated 
about Army wives and daughters instead 
of about Waacs. To Director Hobby for 
the WAAC, General Marshall wrote: 

To me, one of the most stimulating aspects 
of our war effort has been the amazing de- 
velopment of the WAAC organization in 
quality, discipline, capacity for performing a 



wide variety of jobs, and the fine attitude of 
the women themselves. Commanders to 
whom the Waacs have been assigned have 
spoken in the highest terms of their efficiency 
and value. The best evidence in the matter 
are the demands now being made on the 
War Department for increased allotments of 
WAAC organizations. . . . 

I wish you would reassure your subordi- 
nates of the confidence and high respect in 
which they are held by the Army. 108 

WAC leaders were later to conclude 
that the whole slander campaign had 
been to some degree unavoidable. In this, 
the British precedent of identical slander 
in two world wars lent strong support. 
One WAC leader commented, "Men 
have for centuries used slander against 
morals as a weapon to keep women out of 
public life." Mrs. Hobby, after a lapse of 
some five years, remarked, "I believe 
now that it was inevitable; in the history 
of civilization, no new agency requiring 
social change has escaped a similar bap- 
tism. I feel now that nothing we might 
have done could have avoided it." 109 



u ' 5 HR Rpt 566, 78th Cong, 1st sess, Rpt of Com on 
Appropriations to Accompany HR 2996, Mil Estab- 
lishment Appropriation Bill FY 1944. Hobby files, 1G 
Jun 43. 

" J,i Ltr. Base Surg to Mil Pers of Base Hosp, Tinker 
Field, Okla.: reprinted in Ltr, Base Comdr to All Mil 
Orgns ... at Tinker Field, 23 Jun 43: copy in 
Folder, Slander Campaign, OCMH. 

"' 7 Washington Prist, June 16, 1943. 

1118 Personal ltr, CofS to Oveta Culp Hobby, 15 Jan 
43. Gen Marshall's personal files; read by author by 
courtesy of his secretary, December 1945. The Chief 
of Staff was in Africa at the time of the columnist's 
charges, and had just learned of the attack. 

1M ' Comments to author. Briti sh published r eports 
reached the same conclusion. See |Appendix B.] 



CHAPTER XII 



July-September 1943: 
The Conversion to Army Status 



By the middle of June 1943. after delay 
caused by the slander campaign, the WAC 
bill was at last nearing approval by Con- 
gress. 1 The Auxiliary Corps faced its final 
and most severe test, for every member 
must choose honorable discharge or im- 
mediate enlistment in the new Women's 
Army Corps, Army of the United States. 
Neither the modern Army nor any other 
women's service had ever faced such a 
trial, and no precedent existed as to how 
many of the enlisted personnel would 
depart when given such an opportunity. 2 

It had been known for some time that 
certain clauses in the pending WAC legis- 
lation would probably give every member 
of the WAAC the right to elect immediate 
honorable discharge rather than to enlist 
in the new WAC when it should be estab- 
lished. The Army's Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral ruled that it did not lie within the 
Army's power to transfer women from the 
WAAC to the WAC without their consent, 
since only a selective service law could 
place a citizen under court-martial juris- 
diction without his consent. 3 At first, few 
departures had been anticipated, but in 
June, following the newspaper attack, 
Colonel Catron was obliged to inform the 
War Department: "It looks as though 
more members of the old WAAC than we 



had anticipated have it in mind not to join 
the WAC." 4 

Reporters and editors, sensing a spec- 
tacular story in the offing — possibly the 
end of the Corps itself — demanded con- 
firmation of the fact that "the Army is 
very much worried about the WAAC situ- 
ation." When estimates of probable losses 
were refused them, some intimated that 
they would publish estimates of their own. 5 

Director Hobby stated, just before the 
bill passed, "My feeling is that we don't 
want them if they don't want to stay in. I 
would hate to lose a great many but I 
would rather have a smaller Corps of 
women who are dedicated to this service. 
This is something that a woman must 
want to do if she stays in." 8 She therefore 
refused to take steps to persuade women 



1 Min, Gen Council, 31 May 43. 

- The Army Nurse Corps a year later secured simi- 
lar legislation placing it in the Army of the United 
States, but it was not necessary to discharge those 
members who refused AUS status, since there was 
an authorized peacetime component of the ANC 
which continued to exist and in which members 
could be required to continue service. 

3 M/R, 8 May 43. SPWA 300.3 sec 1. 

4 Memo, Exec WAAC for G-l, 20 Jul 43. SPWA 
314.7 sec 3. 

5 File of Tp Convs, esp Jul- Aug 43. 

6 Min, Stf Dirs Conf, Chicago, 15-17 Jun 43. 
SPWA 337 (6-1-43). 



220 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



to stay by emotional appeals or any other 
means. 

The WAC bill itself, as it neared pas- 
sage, offered women the mixed blessing of 
Army status, but few other inducements. 
Little was left of the simple version pro- 
posed by the War Department, which 
would have placed few limitations on the 
Secretary of War's power to decide admin- 
istrative matters. The Congressional situ- 
ation had continued unfavorable all 
spring. In April the War Department be- 
came so alarmed at the rejection of the 
Navy bill to send Waves to foreign coun- 
tries that it withdrew the WAC bill entirely 
and submitted it again in May. 7 

Even so, a number of amendments had 
to be accepted: the Corps was to last only 
for the duration plus six months; it was 
limited to women aged 20-50 years; its 
commanding officer could never be pro- 
moted above the rank of colonel and its 
other officers above the rank of lieutenant 
colonel; its officers could never command 
any men unless specifically ordered to do 
so by Army superiors; physicians and 
nurses could not be accepted because of 
the Medical Department's insistence on 
autonomy." Many even more hampering 
amendments had been narrowly averted — 
the Senate's proviso that the Corps expire 
on 1 January 1945, and the House's at- 
tempts to limit the Corps to 150,000, to 
set the top age at 45, to forbid WAC offi- 
cers to be assigned to Army jobs, and to 
deny all dependency benefits to women — 
but all these were eventually eliminated 
in conference. Director Hobby stated that 
she was willing to accept any amendments 
if only the bill might pass. 3 

Just as they had been a year previously, 
the efforts of the Army's highest authori- 
ties were required to secure Congressional 
approval. General Marshall urged pas- 



sage of the bill in a letter to Chairman 
Andrew J. May of the House Military 
Affairs Committee, and also intervened to 
secure the new age limit of 20-50, which 
would admit more recruits than the previ- 
ous 21-45 limit. General Somervell was 
also summoned to testify when the Mili- 
tary Affairs Committee seemed about to 
disapprove the bill because of the errone- 
ous idea that Wacs would be used to dis- 
place Civil Service workers in Washington. 
This had actually been done on a large 
scale by the WAVES without Congres- 
sional disfavor, but never by the Army. 
"They've got the Waacs and the Waves 
confused," noted the Office of the Secre- 
tary of War. 10 

The First Wac 

The bill to establish a Women's Army 
Corps in the Army of the United States 
was passed by the Senate on 28 June and 



7 Min, Gen Council, 28 Apr 43. 

8 Whether to commission women doctors in the 
WAC or in the Medical Department was for a time a 
controversial problem. The WAAC had consented to 
commission women doctors recommended by The 
Surgeon General, and did commission several — the 
only exception to its rule that all WAAC officers must 
attend OCS. (WD Cir 23, Sec II, 18 Jan 43.) The 
Secretary of War had personally directed Director 
Hobby to include a clause in the WAC bill permit- 
ting commissioning of women doctors in the WAC. 
(WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, Feb 43.) However, 
Congress refused this and passed a separate law per- 
mitting direct commissions in the Medical Corps. 

8 (1) HR Rpt 595, 78th Cong, 1st sess, 24 Jun 43, 
sub: Establishing a WAC for Serv in Army of U.S., 
Conf Rpt to accompany S 495, SPWA 314.7 (1-7- 
43)(1) sec 1. (2) Speech, Min, Tng Cen Comdts Conf, 
Washington, 3 1 Mar 43, SPWA 334.8 (3-20-43). 

10 (1) Ltr, CofS to Hon A.J. May, 1 Mar 43. CofS 
291.9. (2) Memo, Dir WAAC for Leg&LnDiv, WDSS, 
24 Apr 43. CofS 291.9; also in SPWA 341 (4-7-43). 
with note re Gen Marshall's desire for this plan. (3) 
Quotation from M/R, Tp Conv, Mr. Mitchell and Dir 
Hobby, 11 Jun 43. SPWA 314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec 1. 
See also pp. 557-59, below. 



JULY-SEPTEMBER 1943: THE CONVERSION TO ARMY STATUS 221 



signed by the President on 1 July 1943. 11 
On 5 July, in the presence of General 
Marshall and other dignitaries, Director 
Hobby took the oath of office as a colonel, 
Army of the United States, thus becoming 
the first woman to be admitted to the new 
component of the Army. 12 

The passage of the bill was the cause of 
general pride and pleasure to Waacs 
throughout the world. The commanding 
general of the Hampton Roads Port of 
Embarkation wrote to Colonel Hobby: 

You would have been amused and, I think, 
pleased at the reaction of our personnel here 
to the news that the legislation had gone 
through. The Port Band at mess time, accom- 
panied by a large part of our Headquarters 
Detachment of enlisted men, proceeded to 
the WAC barracks and serenaded the girls 
with "You're in the Army Now." and "This 
is the Army, Mr. Jones." and a general iolli- 
fication ensued. 13 

Actually, "You're in the Army Now" 
was somewhat premature, for the WAAC 
did not automatically become the WAC. 
The law gave the Army ninety days to 
arrange for the dissolution of the Women's 
Army Auxiliary Corps. By the thirtieth 
day of September, all Waacs must be en- 
listed or commissioned in the WAC, or 
discharged, for the WAAC would cease to 
exist. 

The Conversion 

The following ninety days of the sum- 
mer of 1943, informally called The Con- 
version, were perhaps the busiest in the 
history of the Corps. WAAC Headquar- 
ters' fourteen-hour day now approached a 
twenty-four-hour one as WAAC officers 
worked throughout the night to type, sort, 
and fold informational material and stuff 
envelopes. Director Hobby canceled all 
travel plans for July and August, and the 
headquarters braced itself for three 



months of the most intense activity the 
Corps had yet experienced. 14 

WAAC Headquarters was immediately 
hit by "a flood of requests for information 
regarding the changeover." 15 Stations in 
the field had had no instructions or advice 
as to the nature of the conversion, and 
knew only what they read in the news- 
papers. Some stations immediately began 
to let women go home if they wished, 
without proper authority; lfi others began 
to swear them into the Army, also with- 
out authority — in fact, some enlisted 
women were sworn in by WAAC officers 
and served for months without ever know- 
ing that they were not in the Army. 17 

Director Hobby had foreseen this con- 
fusion and had asked the War Depart- 
ment to permit her to send the complete 
conversion plan to the field far in advance 
of the event. This conversion plan had 
actually been carefully prepared over the 
past six months by WAAC Headquarters 
and The Adjutant General's Office, and 
included a detailed timetable based on T 
Day or Transfer Day. Women who desired 
to transfer to the WAC must complete a 

" PL 1 10. Approved by WD in Ltr, SW to Bur of 
Budget. 1 Jul 43. SPGAL 291.9 Gen (6-30-43)-5, in 
WDCSA 291.9. 

12 (1) WDBPR Press Release, 5 Jul 43. (2) GO 1, 
Hq WAC, sub: Assumption of Comd. SPWA 300.4 
(7-5-43)E (1943). She was not the first woman ad- 
mitted to the AUS; this honor went to Major Craig- 
hill, the first woman doctor to be admitted under 
Medical Corps legislation of the previous month. 

1 f Ltr, Brig Gen John R. Kilpatrick, CG HRPOE, 
to Col Hobby, 3 Jul 43. SPWA 314.7 (6-29-43). 

14 (1) Memo Routing Slip, Dir's secy to OTI, 25 
Jun 43. Vol. I Gen Policy, WAAC Hist File, 19+3. (2) 
Intraoffice Memo to Asst Exec WAAC, 28 Jul 43. 
SPWA 314.7 (1-7-43)0) sec 3. 

15 WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 1 Jul 43. 

16 Rectified by Change 2. 14 Jul 43, to AGO Memo 
W635- 10-43, 7 Jul 43. 

17 Rectified by AG Ltr, 21 Aug 43. AG 320.2 
WAAC PR-W, in SPWA 3 14.7 sec 4. Women later 
demanded release but were refused on grounds that 
they had been "constructively enlisted." 



222 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



certain application form, must pass a 
stricter Army medical examination, and 
must also be recommended by their com- 
manders. It was intended that this 
processing be completed by 1 September 
1943, on which date Waacs all over the 
world would be sworn in with mass cere- 
monies. 18 

G-l Division of the General Staff had 
refused the request to communicate this 
plan to the field in advance of the passage 
of legislation, stating that such action 
might be illegal or might adversely influ- 
ence Congress, and had told the Director, 
"There will be plenty of time." 19 The Di- 
rector persisted and finally, only a week 
before the passage of the bill, succeeded in 
getting a confidential letter sent to all 
commands, giving an enlistment plan that 
could be put into effect under any proba- 
ble wording of the legislation. 20 

On 1 July 1943, a few moments after 
the bill was signed, Director Hobby 
telegraphed all Army commands telling 
them to begin the processes of this letter, 
and to abide by WAAC Regulations until 
new ones could be published. Unfortu- 
nately, the letter itself had not yet had 
time to filter down to most Army stations, 
since it had to be relayed through several 
command echelons, and those women 
who wished to leave, and their parents, 
became immediately frantic for reassur- 
ance. When the Director saw how little in- 
formation had reached the field, she chose 
six of the Corps' best officers and sent 
them on tour to carry correct procedures 
to every WAAC company; she herself 
visited as many as possible. 21 

Even after stations received instruction, 
the apparently simple process soon proved 
unbelievably complicated: all of the ad- 
ministrative problems of the Auxiliary 
here converged and demanded a final 



definitive solution as to the exact status of 
its members in all legal matters before 
WAAC records could be closed out. Some 
of these questions, but not many, could be 
answered by WAAC Headquarters. A 
number of red-bordered immediate-action 
letters were published by The Adjutant 
General, at WAAC Headquarters' re- 
quest, to get answers to the field before 1 
September, while others were answered 
by telephone and telegraph. 22 

In addition, there were about twenty 
major issues which neither the Army nor 
WAAC Headquarters had the power to 
decide; these were submitted to the 
Comptroller General, but decision was not 
received on some cases until the following 
October and November. Most stations de- 
sired especially to know whether WAAC 
service might be counted as Army service 
for purposes of longevity pay. Most Waacs 
and Army stations felt strongly that it 
should, since in actual conditions of daily 
living there was virtually no difference in 
WAAC and WAC life, which continued 
without a break in its routine. The Army 
Service Forces blamed the Director's 

18 (1) M/R, sub: Chronology, Conversion of 
WAAC to WAC. SPWA 314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec 3. (2) 
Memo, Capt Handel for Maj George G. Wolfe, AGO, 
26 Apr 43. SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1. (3) Memo, 
Dir WAC for Dir Per s ASF, 30Jun 43. SPWA 291.9. 
(4) AGO Memo cite d n. 161 (5) WD Cir 146, 26 Jun 
43, sec III, Physical Standards. 

16 Memo, WAAC Hq for TAG, and Ind, 12 Jun 43. 
SPWA 314.7 sec 1. 

"AGO Ltr, 24 Jun 43. AG 210.1 WAAC (6-23- 
43), in SPWA 314.7 sec 1. 

21 A week later, more specific instructions were 
published by TAG. The Director also telegraphed all 
WAAC training centers to issue simultaneous press 
releases. ( 1) TWX, Dir to all SvCs, Tng Cens, Ports, 
and Def Comds, 1 Jul 43. and Ltrs to AAF, AGF, and 
MDW; (2) TWX to all Tng Cens, 1 Jul 43. SPWA 
314.7 sec 3. (3) Speech, Dir. WAC, Min, StfDirs Conf, 
New York, 1-3 Dec 43. SPWA 337 (1 1-10-43). 

" W635 series, copies in Vol. AGO Memoranda, 
WAAC Hist File. Also Change 1, 13 J ul 43 and 
Change 2, 1 4 Jul 43, to AGO Memo citec j n. 16.| 



JULY-SEPTEMBER 1943: THE CONVERSION TO ARMY STATUS 



223 



Office for the delay in answering such 
questions, and one of General Somervell's 
consultants pronounced its organization 
"inadequate," saying, "Simple questions 
such as 'Does my service in the WAAG 
count so far as longevity benefits are con- 
cerned?' are unanswered. It is possible 
that five minutes would be required to 
settle a question of this type; the only pos- 
sible answer is yes." 23 As a matter of fact, 
the only possible legal answer was no, and 
after some years of controversy and at- 
tempted corrective legislation, the answer 
was still no. 24 

Some Comptroller General decisions 
decided such issues as the fact that Waacs 
were not entitled to re-employment rights 
even if they enlisted in the WAC, since 
they had not gone directly from their 
civilian jobs to the Army; this issue was 
not finally settled until 1946 when correc- 
tive legislation was secured. It was also 
found that Waacs who enlisted in the 
WAC forfeited their eventual travel pay 
home upon discharge, and were entitled 
only to pay to the place where they joined 
the Army, their present station; correction 
of this matter luckily did not require legis- 
lation and was made by the Comptroller 
General in time to prevent wholesale fail- 
ure to enlist. 25 

Still worse field confusion resulted when 
the physical requirements were changed 
in mid-August. For two months before 
passage of the bill, Director Hobby had 
argued with The Surgeon General over 
the physical standards, which she wished 
to adjust so as to admit every Waac who 
had been qualified upon her enrollment 
and who had since given satisfactory serv- 
ice, even though her physical condition 
might have declined since her enrollment. 
She felt strongly that these women should 
be admitted to the WAC and given reme- 



dial treatment if necessary. This The Sur- 
geon General refused, stating that routine 
granting of administrative waivers would 
negate the desired screening by virtually 
blanketing the WAAC into the WAC. 
Director Hobby especially objected to the 
high visual standards, seldom needed by 
enlisted women, and directed that her of- 
fice "go to bat with the Surgeon General." 
Toward the end of June, G-l Division de- 
cided in favor of The Surgeon General, 
and directives for physical examinations 
were published accordingly. 

By August the numbers of Waacs re- 
jected for physical reasons became so ex- 
cessive that the decision was reversed, 
Colonel Hobby's plan accepted, and all 
discharges for physical reasons were 
stopped until the requirements were cor- 
rected. This action could not authorize 
recall of women who had already been 
discharged under the old standards, and 
considerable inequality of treatment to in- 
dividuals resulted. 2R 

2:1 Memo, "WCM" for Dir Pers ASF, 10 Aug 43. 
SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26-43), ASF files. 

- * Comptr Gen to SW, Decision B-35441, 4 Aug 43. 
SPWA 242.2 (6-10-43). Service did count for Yeo- 
maneltes, Marinetles, Army field clerks, WAVES, 
SPARS, Women Marines. Army or Navy Nurse 
Corps service could be counted by enlisted women 
but not officers. 

2 » (1) Memo, JAG for WAAC Hq, 19 Aug 43, sub: 
Eligibility for Re-cmployment Benefits, etc. SPJGA 
1943/1 1282 in WAAC file. (2) Comptr Gen to SW, 
Decision B-36362, 26 Aug 43. SPWA 245.6 (7-1-43). 
(3) For a summary of controversy on legal status of 
WAAC. sec Kppcndiy C.| 

- 8 All except (2) and (7) in SPWA 314.7 (1-7-43), 
sees 1 and 4 (1943): (1) Memo, Dir WAAC for Dir 
Pers ASF, 3 Jun 43. (2) Memo, Dir Hobby for SG, 26 
Apr 43. SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1. Director Hobby 
felt that nurses 1 standards on weight and eyesight 
were too high for enlisted Wacs, since Wacs often did 
more sedentary jobs. (3) Office Memo, WAAC Contl 
Divfor Exec WAAC, 14 Jun 43; (4) M/R, 23 Jun 43; 
(5) WT> Cir 146, sec III, 26 Jun 43; (6) Memo, CofS 
ASF for Dir WAAC, 21 Aug 43. and Ind, with AG 
Ltr 220.8 WAAC PR-W, 23 Aug 43. (7) Memo, Gen 
Styer for TAG, 23 Aug 43. SPEX. 



224 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



First Companies in ihe WA C 

Meanwhile, station commanders were 
alarmed to note that, during the two- 
month period of indecision and confusion, 
many women who had at first intended to 
enlist were changing their minds. The de- 
lay between passage of the bill on 1 July 
and the scheduled date for mass swearing- 
in on 1 September gave parents, friends, 
and former employers time to urge a re- 
turn home. Moreover, Army supervisors 
were found to be offering certain women 
high civilian salaries to leave the Corps 
and continue in the same jobs as civil- 
ians — the advantage being, from the 
officers' viewpoint, that the women could 
then date officers and live where their 
quarters and hours were not supervised. 
This practice became so widespread that 
Colonel Hobby was able to collect evi- 
dence of it sufficient to secure an Army 
Service Forces directive forbidding such 
offers. Meanwhile, at stations where such 
transfers had already occurred, remain- 
ing Waacs were found less disposed to con- 
tinue under military restrictions and 
enlisted wages. 27 

In late July, as the evidence of suasion 
by relatives and employers mounted, it 
was directed that each station swear in its 
company as soon as it was ready, instead 
of waiting for the scheduled 1 September 
date for mass enlistment. Only WAAC 
officers were required to wait until 1 Sep- 
tember. Where 95 percent or more of a 
company intended to enlist, it was sug- 
gested that a mass ceremony be held with 
appropriate publicity. 38 

This move proved successful and field 
companies raced to be the first to enlist. 
One Army Service Forces and two Army 
Air Forces companies tied for first place, 
each with 100 percent enlistment. 29 



Others had only a few losses, chiefly for 
physical disability, and throughout Au- 
gust these were sworn in as fast as possible. 

As the WAC waited to discover what 
the total loss would be, it became evident 
that there was considerable variation from 
station to station — some losing none, some 
losing 5 or 10 percent, many about 20 per- 
cent, and others as much as 50 percent. 
When the loss figures from their several 
stations were compared, higher com- 
manders were presented with what 
amounted to a chart of relative efficiency 
in personnel management. Air and service 
command headquarters at once sent in- 
spectors and WAAC staff directors to the 
stations showing high losses, in the hope 
that conditions might be corrected while 
there was still time for the women to 
change their minds before discharge. 
Commanding generals of major com- 
mands became generally aware of the 
matter; some actually went in person to 
speak to the women. 30 

Why Some Went Home 

The combined discoveries of these in- 
spectors gave WAAC Headquarters a 
reasonably clear picture of the reasons for 
which women were leaving. The most re- 
vealing discovery was that the majority 
was not quitting because of the hardships 
of Army life. On the contrary, at many 



27 (1) Memo, Dir WAC for Dir Pers ASF, 23 Aug 
43, and Memo, Dir Pers ASF for TAG, 27 Aug 43. 
SPWA 314.7 sec 4. (2) WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I. 
28 Jul 43. Also M/R, 13 Aug 43. SPWA 230.14 (7- 
22-43). 

28 AGO Memo W635-14-43, 30 Jul 43. 

On 2 August 1943: Moody Field, Valdosta, Ga.; 
Mitchel Field, N. Y. ; Edgewood Arsenal, Md. 
WDBPR Press Release, 3 Aug 43. 

"'Folder, Congratulatory Letters, SPWA 314.7 
(6-29-43) 1943. 



226 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



isolated and uncomfortable stations in 
deserts and swamps fewer left than at 
large comfortable installations. In one 
case, Waacs were stationed at two airfields 
near the same Texas city — one the hand- 
some permanent headquarters of a com- 
manding general, the other a hastily ex- 
panded training field; yet thirty-seven 
women left the first, none the second. In- 
spectors noted that the more isolated or 
less comfortable stations could not get 
civilians and therefore needed and appre- 
ciated the Waacs. 31 

One staff director reported, "The hap- 
piest girls are the ones doing the hardest 
work." 32 Inspectors' conclusions could be 
summarized in one statement: Waacs re- 
mained at stations where they were wanted and 
needed in their jobs. Even before the conver- 
sion started, Director Hobby had in- 
formed commands employing Waacs that 
only two things would be needed to make 
a woman wish to remain: "These are, first, 
that her job shall keep her busy and utilize 
her abilities to the best advantage, and 
second, that she shall feel that she is mak- 
ing a real contribution and that the Army 
is interested in her work." 33 

A frequently identifiable cause of loss 
was hostility toward Waacs on the part of 
a post commander, which set the tone for 
the entire post and was usually associated 
with poor job assignments for women. 
When Las Vegas Army Air Base lost 54 of 
its 151 members, inspectors reported: 

The Unit Commander stated that she had 
met the post commander only on two occa- 
sions. Neither the Inspecting Officers nor the 
Staff Director was able to see him. . . . 
Women were assigned in the Officers' Mess 
and the Post Exchange. The Unit Com- 
mander has been allowed little part in the 
assignment of WAAC personnel. 34 



At Camp Lee, Virginia, 40 of 146 were 
leaving. Inspectors reported: 

All records were satisfactory . . . [but] 
morale and company spirit were found to be 
very low. . . . Women stated that they did 
not have the proper respect of the enlisted 
men. They said they had discussed this with 
the post c.o., but he told inspectors he was 
unaware of it. 35 

At many other stations the fault did not 
lie with the post commander, except in 
failing to recommend removal of the 
WAAC commander, for inspection reports 
clearly placed the blame on unsuitable 
WAAC company commanders. At Rich- 
mond, Virginia, inspectors found records, 
buildings, mess, supply, recreation, and 
church facilities all adequate, but through 
the fault of the company commander 
many Waacs were malassigned, and 
"punishments have been given that are 
out of proportion for offenses commit- 
ted." 36 At Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 
inspectors noted: "The c.o. does not ap- 
pear to have a sympathetic understanding 
of her troops as individuals, and many 
complaints were received that the EW 
could not readily contact her for confer- 



31 WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 28 Jul 43, re Ran- 
dolph Field and Brooks Field, San Antonio, Texas. 
52 Min cited |n. 6j 

13 Personal ltr, (Jveta Culp Hobby to each CG, by 
name, Air Comds, SvCs, AGF Comds, Def Comds, 
Ports, Chiefs of Servs, and Comdts ofSchs, 29 Jim 43. 
SPWA 314.7 sec 1. 

31 Rpt of Insp, Las Vegas AAB, 31 Aug 43. SPWA 
333.1 (8-20-43). 

35 Memo, 1st O Dora F. Petmecky and 2d O Lucia 
T. Hudgens for Dir Fid Insp Div, WAAC, 28 Jul 43, 
sub: Insp of Hq Co (WAAC) formerly designated as 
the 96th. SPWA 314. 7 sec 3. 

Memo, Petmecky and Hudgens for Dir Fid Insp 
Serv, WAAC, 28 Jul 43, sub: Insp of 709th Post Hq 
Co. SPWA 314.7 sec 3. 



JULY-SEPTEMBER 1943: THE CONVERSION TO ARMY STATUS 227 



ences."" Another station lost 35 percent 
of its women because the women believed 
their WAAC commander to be miscon- 
ducting herself with the station com- 
mander, although inspectors could find no 
proof of this. 38 On the other hand, it was 
found that when companies had good 
WAAC commanders many enlisted in a 
body, even though every other outward 
circumstance was unfavorable. 39 

Many unsuitable WAC commanders 
were now relieved and replaced with 
women of understanding and integrity. 
Later, unsuitable WAC commanders 
could not be removed because the new 
Office of the Director WAC no longer had 
command power. 40 

When questioned, women gave various 
reasons for departure. Some of the more 
frequent excuses tabulated were: 

Changed family and home conditions: "Hus- 
band now stationed in U.S. and I wish to 
be with him." "Mother is ill." "Enrolled 
expecting husband to be drafted, but he 
was rejected." Almost half of the excuses 
given fell into this category. Some women 
sought leave to try to pacify relatives and 
men friends before giving up all hope of 
enlisting. 

Dissatisfaction with job assignment: "Feel 
I can do more good in war industry." "I 
can do more good teaching." "My quali- 
fications are not of as much value to the 
Army as they are in civilian life." "Do not 
feel I am doing what I came in to do." 
"Resent working under civilians." 

Emotional or physical difficulties: "Feel 
physically unfit." "Cannot accustom my- 
self to military life." "Unable to concen- 
trate since my husband reported missing." 
"My two sons killed in action. It has made 
me very restless." 41 

Impatience with Army errors: Two women, 



removed from motor transport school and 
sent to cooks and bakers school, said, "We 
expected the Army to be a well-regulated 
organization that didn't make mistakes." 
Others took basic training several times, 
were put in the wrong specialist school, sat 
six weeks in staging area, and said, "We 
see by the papers that requests are on file 
for 600,000 Wacs and here we sit. What's 
the payoff?" 42 

Other miscellaneous undesirable conditions: 
These were analyzed by Colonel Catron 
as 

Overstatements and unfulfillable promises 
by recruiting officers; inadequate physical 
examinations and consequent inclusion of 
too many physically and psycho-neurotically 
unfit; faulty classification and assignment; 
. . . some instances of assigning Waacs to 
jobs of less importance or dignity while civil- 
ians are used in the better positions; some 
cases of delay in having Waacs replace and 
take over the duties of soldiers and of ap- 
pointing them to the grades presumably va- 
cated by the men; . . . the public attitude 
that the war is all but won; the trait of wom- 
en which, once they have decided to join a 
cause, demands that they be kept busy and 
that their abilities be used to the fullest; . . . 
recent unfavorable publicity and the indica- 



!r Memo, 1st O Frances M. Holbrook and 2d O 
Kathryn D. Neely for Dir Fid Insp Serv, 15 Jul 4-3, 
sub: Insp of WAAC Det, ESCTG, Ft Monmouth, 
N.J. SPWA 314.7 sec 3. 

•** Memo, Capt Frances M. Holbrook for Dir Fid 
Surv Br, 23 Oct 43, sub: Rpt of Investigation at Berg- 
strom Fi eld, Tex. SPW A 331.1. 

39 Sec fch. XXXIlf] below. 

40 WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 28 Jul 43. 

41 Reasons in three categories above are from tabu- 
lation at Fort Dcs Moines, copy in Folder, Classifica- 
tion Officers. 1943 WAAC Planning file. See also 
Memo, Exec WAAC for G-l, 20 Jul 43. SPWA 314.7, 
(l-7-43)(l) sec 3. 

Examples from Daytona Beach and Fort Des 
Moines, "Survey on Problems Most Frequently 
brought to Chaplains and Resident Counsellors," 9 
Sep 43. SPWA 231.28. 



228 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



tions that officers, enlisted men, and their 
families have not accepted the Waacs whole- 
heartedly, to say the least. 43 

Relatively fewer WAAC officers applied 
for discharge, although some were elimi- 
nated by a final screening board, called 
the AUS-WAAC Board, set up in Wash- 
ington. 4 " 1 The board was unable to elimi- 
nate many of the unsuitable young officers 
just commissioned, since they were still in 
the officers' pool and could hardly be re- 
jected until they had been given a chance 
at one assignment. The board was also 
hampered by the inconsistent recommen- 
dations of some field commands, which 
asked that certain WAAC officers not be 
admitted to the WAC, but at the same 
time gave them excellent and superior 
ratings. 

Why the Majority Stayed 

By this time the full extent of losses was 
fairly well tabulated. WAAC leaders had 
never ceased to predict that the majority 
of Waacs would not quit in spite of ample 
provocation. This prediction was now up- 
held to a surprising degree. Field stations' 
records of discharges were so uneven that 
it was not possible to determine how many 
of the losses were due to failure to pass the 
physical examination, how many repre- 
sented women whose commanders had 
not recommended them, and how many 
had actually not applied; nevertheless, the 
total of all such losses combined was less 
than 25 percent. More than 75 percent of 
the WAAC had chosen to enlist and had 
been found physically and morally ac- 
ceptable. 4 "' 

Among the three major commands, the 
lowest average loss — about 20 percent — 
was found in the Army Air Forces. Gen- 



eral Arnold, during the conversion period, 
directed all air inspectors to make WAC 
job assignment a special subject, in order 
that "the job assigned each individual will 
keep her busy and employ her abilities to 
best advantage and that she is given an 
opportunity to make a real contribution." 
General Arnold also took personal action 
by appearing in a camp newsreel sequence 
in which he delivered a message to Air 
Forces Wacs, emphasizing the AAF's need 
of them; this was shown to all Waacs at 
air bases before the final dissolution of the 
WAAC. lu 

The highest losses among the three 
major commands — about 34 percent — 
were suffered by the Army Ground Forces. 
Here, General McNair had refused to ac- 
cept an AGF WAAC officer or any staff 
directors or WAAC specialists; he had re- 
peatedly made known his opposition to 
employment of Waacs by the AGF and to 
the admittance of the WAAC to the Army. 
AGF assignment techniques had also been 
notably poor. In July, as manpower short- 
ages became more serious, the AGF re- 
considered its refusal to accept a WAAC 
staff director, and on 1 July Maj. Emily E. 
Davis, one of the first WAAC graduates 
of the Army's Command and General 
Staff School, reported to fill the position 
of AGF WAAC Officer, comparable to 



4S Sec tabulation and memo cited ln. TT1 also. Office 
Memo, Maj Gordon C.Jones for Exec WAC, 4 Aug 
43, with Col Catron's comment in pencil note. SPWA 
342 (7-30-43). 

44 Memo, Dir WAC for Dir Pers ASF. 7 Jul 43; also 
Memo, MPD ASF for TAG, 20 Jul 43. SPWA 314.7 
sec 2. 

45 Losses totaled 343 officers and 14,607 auxiliaries. 
There is no available indication of the portion lost for 
medical reasons, rejection by commanding officer, or 
at own request. WDBPR Press Release, 1 Oct 43. 

16 (1) AAF Memo 171- 1 3 Aug 43. (2) AAF WAC 
Hist, p. 47; se e| Ch. XVl] below. 



JULY-SEPTEMBER 1943: THE CONVERSION TO ARMY STATUS 



229 



that of Major Bandel in the AAF. Major 
Davis at once made a hurried series of 
staff visits to AGF WAAC units. 

The worst situation was at Fort Knox, 
where she found women of the Armored 
Replacement Training Center, declared 
unassignable for lack of typing skill some 
three months before, still sitting in the bar- 
racks without employment. She imme- 
diately secured their reassignment to other 
stations to duties commensurate with their 
Specification Serial Numbers. Major 
Davis made efforts to correct varied unde- 
sirable conditions in other WAAC units, 
but she had come too late to prevent ex- 
tensive departures. Major Davis later 
noted: 

The negative attitude of the command 
toward the utilization of women in the Army, 
which could not help but be transmitted to 
the field commanders, and through them to 
their staffs and to the enlisted women, had a 
part in this loss of personnel. 47 

WAAC observers had no difficulty in 
identifying the motivating force that had 
kept 80 percent of Waacs in the Army in 
the most friendly commands, and 66 per- 
cent even where employers were hostile. 
Most women felt that to leave would be 
moral desertion under the fire of the slan- 
derers, and a betrayal of the ideals that 
had caused them to enlist. Enlistment was, 
like the original enrollment, ordinarily a 
matter of idealism rather than of logic. 
Observers at a training center reported 
that women who had asked discharge for 
good cause suddenly dropped their packed 
suitcases and ran weeping across a drill 
field to join their old platoons and take the 
oath of enlistment. Some who left soon 
asked to return. 48 Others who did not en- 
list later regretted it; one wrote two years 
later: "If I could only have that chance 



again. I haven't felt fine every time I think 
of it." 19 

Director Hobby said: 

We lost a great many fine women because 
they could not pass the Army physical, but 
we also lost a great many women who would 
never have been soldiers. It makes me very 
happy to know that those who stayed, stayed 
because they know what true obligation is, 
and I for one feel that what we now have is a 
firmer core to build around. 50 

As bulwark against its inherited prob- 
lems, the new Women's Army Corps had 
but one asset, but that an invaluable 
one — some 50,000 loyal members who 
now, in spite of full knowledge of its prob- 
lems, followed the Corps into the Army of 
the United States. 

The End of the WAAC 

On the first of September, 1943, eligible 
WAAC officers were sworn into the WAC, 
in grades equivalent to their WAAC grade 
and with date of rank the same as in the 
WAAC. On the same date all WAAC 
units were officially redesignated as WAC. 
By this time enlistment of enrolled women 
was almost complete. Instructions were 
issued in September for the disposition of 
remaining WAAC members. Throughout 
the month, there was considerable scurry- 
ing both in headquarters and the field as 
stray Waacs were rounded up. 51 

On 30 September, the Women's Army 



AGF WAC Hist, particularly Vol. I, pp. 12-13 
and 22. 

"TWX, Hobby to 7th SvC, 10 Sep 43. SPWA 
314.7 sec 4. AGO Memo W635-23-43, 28 Sep 43. 

19 Ltr, "Ex- WAAC" to CofS, 1 1 Oct 45. WDWAC 
220.8. 

50 WAAC Daily Journal, Vol. I, 12 Jul 43. 

51 By WDGO 42, sec 1, 26 Jul 43, effective 1 Sep 
43. AG Ltr 320.2 WAC PR-W, 2 Sep 43. SPWA 
314.7 sec 4. 



230 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Auxiliary Corps ceased to exist. For the 
women who chose to remain with the 
Women's Army Corps, Colonel Hobby 
suggested, and got, a green and gold serv- 
ice ribbon to show their WAAC service. 
She said: 

It is probable that this period will prove to 
have been the most difficult in the life of the 
Corps and the one which, because of its 
pioneering aspect with all that this implies, 



will be the source of the greatest pride to, and 
the reason of the strongest ties among, the 
members of the WAC. 52 



52 Memo, Dir WAAC for G-l, 25 Jun 43. SPWA 
200.6. Director Hobby intended the ribbon only for 
those whose service was continuous, but by an error 
in wording it also could be awarded to those who left 
the Corps and later returned. She was not able to get 
the wording changed to prevent this, as some such 
awards had already been made, and G-l Division 
held it illegal to withdraw them. See Memo, Dir 
WAC for G-l, 19 Feb 44. SPWA 200.6 (1943). 



CHAPTER XIII 



Attempts To R< 

The new Women's Army Corps began 
in spirit early in the summer, when groups 
of worried recruiting experts gathered in 
the Director's office to plan the first cam- 
paign. The whole future of the Corps quite 
evidently hung on the success of this effort. 
WAAC recruiting closed on 8 August 
1943, and WAC recruiting opened with- 
out delay on the following day, yet in the 
entire month only 839 recruits were re- 
ported. 1 

At the same time, the Army's need for 
personnel had never been more urgent. 
The Adjutant General estimated that 
2,000,000 more men must be drafted 
within the next year, of which 446,000 
would be fathers of families. The Adjutant 
General stated that more than 600,000 of 
the jobs could more efficiently be done by 
Wacs, thus preventing the necessity of 
drafting any fathers whatever. General 
Marshall, after the ceremonies in which 
Colonel Hobby was sworn into the WAC, 
asked her if she could get the Army the 
600,000 women it needed. The Director 
avoided a public reply. 2 

In fact, the real question was whether 
the WAC could survive at all, after the 
twin blows of the slander campaign and 
the conversion. In its first year, the Corps 
had recruited almost 65,000 members, but 
at the July recruiting rate it would take 
almost three years to get another 65,000; 
at the August rate, five years. At this point 
normal attrition overtook recruiting. 



vive Recruiting 

As the Corps waited for War Depart- 
ment solution to the recruiting problem, 
excess training centers were closed, surplus 
instructors were assigned to officers' pools, 
and recruiters were told to suspend their 
efforts pending new instructions. 

The Search for a Recruiting Theme 

In view of the gravity of the situation, 
both General White of G-l Division and 
Brig. Gen. Joseph N. Dalton of ASF's 
Military Personnel Division personally 
participated in recruiting conferences dur- 
ing the summer. The ASF donated the 
full-time services of Ma ; . Robert S. Brown, 
rated as one of its best publicity experts, 
who was to give the problem concentrated 
attention until his death the following 
year. The advertising agency of Young & 
Rubicam sent numerous experts, includ- 
ing its adviser, Dr. George Gallup. 

These planners fell into anxious debate 
over the theme of the next campaign, 

1 Figur es as ava ilable to the War Department at 
the time. [Table 2 J Appendix A, gives accessions fig- 
ures as revised by The Adjutant General's Office, 1 
February L948. fl) Memo, Dir WAC for TAG, 26 Jul 
43; (2) ASF Memo S635-6-43, 30 Jul 43; f 31 TWX. 
TAG to SvCs, 5 Aug 43. AG 341 WAAC PR -I; (4) 
Ltr, 6th SvC to Dir WAC, 13 Aug 43, sub: WD 
MemoS635-6-43. SPKOG 341-1 WAAC; (5) AGO 
Form 721, 1 Jul 43, Enlmt Rec, WAC, AUS. All in 
SPWA 341 (1943). 

2 (1) Min, Conf with Chief. Classif and Repl Br 
AGO. SPWA 337.2, incl Tables A, B. (2) WDBPR 
Press Release, 5 Jul 43. 



232 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



which if not successful might well be the 
last. Dr. Gallup advocated an appeal to a 
woman's self-interest, with emphasis on 
the advantages of military status, the 
value of WAC training, and free clothes, 
food, and medical care. Colonel Hobby 
disliked such an approach, and held out 
for the straight patriotic appeal. Her fa- 
vorite advertisement was a "shocker" 
which showed a wounded soldier dying on 
the battlefield while women played bridge, 
with the caption, men are dying on the 

BATTLELINE CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOUR- 
SELF ON THE SIDELINE? 

This approach was vetoed by Generals 
White and Dalton, who were obliged to 
inform Colonel Hobby that the censors 
forbade showing dead American soldiers 
to the American public. Colonel Hobby 
next produced an advertisement showing 
soldiers' graves, with the caption, they 

CAN'T DO ANY MORE BUT YOU CAN. She 

argued, "Something like this is needed to 
drive home a sense of shame to women not 
doing anything." Results would be better, 
she said, "the more difficult this job was 
painted to a woman, the more of a chal- 
lenge it was to her . . . telling how hard, 
how drab, how routine it is. . . . Has she 
the courage to do the commonplace as 
against the courage of the spectacular?" 
Dr. Gallup disagreed with her, saying: 

When you take into account all groups, I 
am afraid that would not be as good as some 
other appeal. There is too much competition 
from other things; there are too many ways 
by which people can rationalize their own 
situation. Almost every person has, in his own 
mind, become important, even though only 
growing a couple of cabbage heads. 

Representatives of Young & Rubicam 
pointed out also that "what appeals to the 
manufacturer seldom appeals to the con- 



sumer," and finally decided to run only 
one advertisement of the shocker type to 
see if it "made the women mad." Colonel 
Hobby replied that, as far as she was con- 
cerned, they could be made as mad as 
hatters if it only drove them to the recruit- 
ing station. 3 

As a matter of record, when the sol- 
diers'-graves advertisement was used in 
October, it was banned in Boston news- 
papers because it was "too gruesome" and 
might have caused "sad week ends" to 
sensitive citizens. Most later advertise- 
ments therefore emphasized the WAC's 
attractive jobs and its material advan- 
tages. 

It was decided that advertising em- 
phasis would be put on, first, the hundreds 
of types of Army work now open to Wacs, 
and second, WAC benefits, which now 
offered the greater advantage of full mili- 
tary status. It was noteworthy that the 
same decision concerning "glamorization" 
was also deemed essential, at different 
times, by both British and WAVES re- 
cruiters, in both cases over the objections 
of women directors. 1 

The Manpower Theme 

Colonel Hobby took the occasion of her 
oath of office to launch another theme 
more congenial to the American public 
than the ill-fated "Release a Man" slogan; 
this was the WAC as the preserver of the 
American home. Pointing out that every 



3 All comments from min of conf, WAAC Daily- 
Journal, Vol. I, 13 Jul 43. 

4 (1) Ltr, C. W. Rogers, Advt Dir, Boston Post, to 
Mr. Jim Mullins, Kelly-Smith Co., New York, 29 Oct 
43. SPWA 000.7. (2) Draft, 2 Jul 43, sub: Notes for 
Publicity re WAAC Becoming Part of Army. Folder, 
WAAC to WAC, WAAC Planning files. (3) WAVES 
Hist; also Conditions in the Three Women's Services. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



233 



woman in uniform enabled a father to stay 
with his family, Colonel Hobby informed 
the press, "Women as a group have always 
been the exponents of family life. They 
may now preserve and protect this family 
life, the core of American civilization and 
culture." 5 Newspaper writers readily took 
up this idea, stating, "In the absence of a 
draft, it is just possible that the WAC will 
be filled by young women who would 
rather join the Army than see their mar- 
ried brothers taken from their children." 
War Manpower Commissioner Paul V. 
McNutt tentatively indorsed the theme, 
saying, "The number of Wacs and Waves 
has been increased. As a consequence the 
month when it would be necessary to take 
fathers has been pushed back. We do not 
yet know what the yield will be." 6 

This potentially powerful approach 
could not be pushed as far as was desired 
because of the refusal of the nation's high- 
est manpower agencies to lend it any prac- 
tical support. Attempts were made to get 
the national Selective Service system to 
credit WAC enlistments against local draft 
quotas instead of against national totals, 
so that women might see the results of 
their enlistment in their own towns, but 
this was repeatedly refused by Maj. Gen. 
Lewis B. Hershey because of the extra 
effort and the administrative changes 
involved. 

The War Manpower Commission also, 
in spite of Mr. McNutt's public statement, 
continued to act on the assumption that 
WAC recruiting was a threat to the indus- 
trial war effort. 7 During these summer 
months, recruiters in the field forwarded 
surprising information concerning WMC's 
part in the recent failure of the Cleveland 
Plan, Colonel Hobby telegraphed all serv- 
ice commands for confirmation, and dis- 



covered that, during the Cleveland Cam- 
paign, the War Manpower Commission 
had effectively stopped all WAAC recruit- 
ing publicity in areas including about one 
half of the population of the United States. 

The news appeared the more inexplica- 
ble in that the Cleveland Campaign had 
been cleared with national WMC head- 
quarters before ever being launched. To 
obtain clearance, considerable concessions 
had been made by the armed forces in ? 
joint Army-Navy agreement in April, in 
which they had renounced the right to 
recruit women engaged in aircraft produc- 
tion, shipbuilding, ordnance or signal 
work, war research and technical teach- 
ing, and wire or radio communication. 
Nevertheless, service commands indicated 
that, as soon as the Cleveland Campaign 
had been launched, the War Manpower 
Commission had directed its regional 
agencies not to allow the services to recruit 
any women, employed or unemployed, in 
labor-short areas. 

While the WMC could not prevent 
recruiters from setting up offices in a city, 
it could, through its control of the Office 
of War Information, prevent them from 
making their presence known by way of 
radio, newspapers, or other news media. 
The OWI disclosed that it had received 
orders from the War Manpower Commis- 
sion not to give any publicity to armed 
forces recruitment of women, and stated, 
"The War Manpower Commission is the 
ultimate authority on recruitment. The 
recruitment of women is limited to such 
areas as are agreed upon with the Re- 



The New York Times, July 5, 1943. 
c Both from The New York Herald Tribune, July 1 1 , 
1943. 

7 For discussion of Selective Service's role, see Chs. 
[XVl and |XXXIV| below. 



234 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



gional War Manpower Commission Of- 
fice." 8 

These areas were extensive, containing 
perhaps one half the population of the 
United States. It was also discovered that 
almost all large cities had been included: 
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, In- 
dianapolis, Baltimore, and many others — 
a matter that was serious to understaffed 
recruiting offices, since cities were the most 
easily accessible areas. For example, in 
New York state the O WI directed, "Re- 
cruitment of women WAVES, WACS, 
SPARS, and Marines is not considered 
advisable in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, 
Schenectady, Syracuse, Troy, Utica, and 
[other cities.]" The stoppage was the more 
inexplicable in that, while affected areas 
were chiefly those labeled Class I or II — 
"labor-tight" areas — others were in Class 
III or IV, where there was supposedly no 
labor shortage. 9 

The Army at once took issue with this 
action, informing the War Manpower 
Commission that it was highly question- 
able whether the WMC Enabling Act 
gave the Commission the authority to 
limit recruitment of women by the armed 
forces. The executive order that gave 
WMC control of the Selective Service sys- 
tem directed only that "no male person," 
18-38, should be inducted except through 
Selective Service. The WAC was not men- 
tioned except that its training programs, 
with all others of the armed forces, should, 
if using nonfederal educational institu- 
tions, be co-ordinated to ensure full use. 
It did not appear to the Army that female 
soldiers could be considered "workers" in 
the passage which required "the hiring, 
rehiring, solicitation, and recruitment of 
workers ... in any plant, facility, occu- 
pation, or area" to be done through the 
United States Employment Service. 



In reply to the Army, the WMC re- 
torted that WAC enlistments "shall be 
subject to the conditions of employment 
stabilization plans of the War Manpower 
Commission." It claimed authority not 
only over publicity media, but also to 
direct the Army not to send WAC recruit- 
ing teams to any area, or to use drill 
teams, bands, or local advertising, or to 
set quotas or take any other means of en- 
couraging women to join the WAC. It also 
added thirty-five more exempted fields 
from which the WAC could not accept 
recruits, some of which were described in 
such broad terms as "industries" and 
"education services, public and private." 10 

The Army and Navy joined in protest- 
ing this action. They pointed out that it 
was extremely shortsighted to draft skilled 
male factory workers and teach them to 
type, thus forcing industry to replace them 
with women who had to learn the factory 
trade; both armed forces and industry 
would benefit by allowing a woman typist 
to enlist so that a skilled factory worker 
need not be drafted. Since competitive re- 
cruiting was admittedly to be deplored, 
the armed forces suggested instead a giant 
combined campaign, with resources of all 
agencies directed toward drawing women 



s ( 1) Memo, Pers Div ASF for Enl Sec, 29 May 43, 
with incl copy of Memo, WMC for OWI, picked up 
by Army officer when a New York radio station re- 
fused to broadcast the WAAC news release. SPWA 
000.77 (1943). (2) Almost identical Ltr from Georgia. 
SPWA 31 1.23. (3) Ltr, R&I Serv, 2d SvC to WAAC 
Hq, 30 Jun 43, saying that the WMC in Newark 
asked radio stations to hold off all WAAC publicity 
"owing to the womanpower drive of the WMC." 
SPWA 000.7 7 (1943). 

9 Ibid. Also Memo, WAAC Hq For WDBPR, 7 Jul 
43, sub: WAAC Rctg, Class I and II Cities [incl telgs 
and lists of cities], SPWA 000.77 (1943). 

10 (1) Exec Order 9279. (2) Draft of Ltr, SW to the 
President USA and to WMC. SPWA 000.77 (1943). 
(3) Ltr, Dep Chmn WMC to USW, 9 Jul 43. SPWA 
341 (1943). 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



235 




MAJ. JESSIE P. RICE 



into war work, with the choice of job left 
to the individual. Otherwise, the Army 
pointed out, many unemployed women in 
labor-short areas would never be reached, 
since they would not take factory jobs and 
could not be offered Army jobs. 11 

As the War Manpower Commission re- 
fused action, the armed forces in August 
appealed the issue to the nation's highest 
manpower authority — Justice James F. 
Byrnes, the Director of War Mobilization. 
On 12 August 1943, the Director of War 
Mobilization informed the contenders 
that the WMC was forbidden to interfere 
in national recruiting campaigns even in 
labor-short areas. Its list of thirty-five es- 
sential industries was rejected in favor of 
the Army's shorter one of eight. The Army 
was in turn directed not to conduct any 
"intensive local campaigns" in Class I and 
II areas without clearance with the 



WMC. 12 It was only with this reassurance 
that the Army approved funds for the ad- 
vertisements already selected, and for a 
new recruiting campaign to be co-ordi- 
nated with them. The campaign, unlike 
the advertisements, was shaped about the 
patriotic motif that the Director preferred. 

The All-States Plan 

Both the idea and the energy for the 
new campaign were supplied by a new- 
comer to WAC Headquarters, Capt. Jessie 
P. Rice of the Third Service Command, 
who was reassigned to the Director's 
Office in the summer. Captain Rice — a 
major in late August — was a woman of 42, 
described by reporters as "cheery, no-non- 
sense," and by all who knew her as 
"dynamic." She brought to the problem 
what proved an appropriate back- 
ground — that of an industrial sales man- 
ager, history teacher, sports reporter, and 
native of a small Georgia town; she had 
also had a year's field experience as Staff 
Director, Third Service Command. For 
the next twenty months, first as head of 
WAC Recruiting and then as Deputy Di- 
rector, she was to be, next to Colonel 
Hobby, the chief author of WAC policy. 
She was later credited by Director Hobby 
with, quite literally, saving the WAC from 
public defeat on two different occasions, of 
which the first was the present critical 
period. In her approach to the current 
problem, as to all later ones, staff mem- 
bers noted a rare combination of common- 
sense practicality with unabashed idealism 

11 Memo, JND for Gen Somervell, 12 Jul 43. 
SPAP, in SPWA 341 (1943). 

12 (1) Memo, USW to Dir OWM, 21 Jul 43. 
WDGAP 320.2, in SPWA 341 (1943). (2) Memo, SW 
for CG ASF, 3 Aug 43. Same file. (3) Ltr, Dir OWM 
to SW, SN, WMC, OWI, 1 2 Aug 43. SPWA 000.77 
(6-4-43), 1943. 



236 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



for the nation's goals and the Corps' con- 
tributions to them. 13 

Major Rice strongly believed that the 
WAC would achieve lasting success and 
overcome the slander campaign only 
through the support of the American com- 
munity, which was merely alienated by 
dazzling supersalesmanship and could be 
won only through giving community 
members a personal stake in the outcome. 
They must not be worked upon by out- 
siders but must do the work themselves, 
and its outcome must be made a competi- 
tive matter of local pride. 

She therefore christened her plan the 
"All-States Plan" and credited the idea to 
a local success achieved by Baltimore re- 
cruiters. It called, quite simply, for each 
state to recruit a state company, which 
would carry its flag and wear its armband 
in training. The trick was in the mechan- 
ics, which involved participation of the 
states' most reputable citizens: General 
Marshall was to ask state governors to ap- 
point local committees consisting of 
mayors and other prominent citizens in 
each town, who would be responsible for 
aiding recruiters to meet the quota. Major 
Rice said: 

You will find in this plan nothing new — it 
is based on the oldest and most fundamental 
appeal any nation has ever used, and the de- 
vice it uses is the oldest recruiting device in 
America, stemming from Colonial days. The 
appeal is the straight patriotic appeal. . . . 
By making this appeal by States we hope to 
reinforce it by the appeal of State pride. We 
have a big country with many state and sec- 
tional traditions . . . and they can be made 
to play their part only if the operations are 
conducted by people who know the States 
and the people in them. 1 4 

Another appeal was added by Colonel 
Hobby concerning the setting of the 
quota; each town would list the number of 



its sons who had become battle casualties 
and would recruit a woman to replace 
each. 15 

The All-States Plan, Major Rice pre- 
dicted, would not bring in astronomical 
numbers of recruits, but it could if prop- 
erly handled pull the WAC out of its re- 
cruiting slump, ensure its continued 
existence, and help to squelch the slander 
campaign. 

The Recruiters 

The WAC recruiting machinery could 
scarcely have been in worse condition for 
a new effort. Recruiters had borne the 
brunt of a year of public hostility, and 
were so fatigued and discouraged that 
their relief would have been essential had 
any trained replacements been available. 
A typical example was one very junior 
North Carolina recruiter, who reported 
bitterly that she had made recruiting trips 
to all the main towns in nine different 
counties, secured seventy-three free arti- 
cles and advertisements, got free radio 
time, secured lists of prospects in every 
town and sent them all letters, developed 
a trailer film and display boards, spon- 
sored a state-wide high school poster con- 
test, and distributed 10,000 copies of the 
winning poster. In return, she succeeded 
in giving out only ninety application 
blanks, received thirteen applications, and 
enrolled two women. Meanwhile, her four 
enlisted assistants became discouraged 



13 (1) WDBPR Press Release, 28 Oct 42. (2) "The 
Nine Old Women," Time, 1944. (3) Intervs with Mrs. 
Hobby, 29 Jun 48, and numerous others. 

14 Entire discussion from Min, WAC Rctg Conf, 7 
Sep 43. WAC Daily Journal, Vol. II, SPWA 337 (9- 
1-43). 

li Approved by D/F, G- 1 to ASF through CofS, 2 
Sep 43. WDGAP 341 WAC, in WDCSA 291.9 
WAAC. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



237 



and applied for discharge from the 
WAAC to get defense jobs in California. 
For these tribulations, her only reward 
was a letter of reprimand from WAAC 
headquarters concerning the winning 
poster, which had been in such poor taste 
as to come to national attention. 1 " 

The burst of energy demanded by a 
new recruiting drive therefore presented a 
particular problem. Colonel Hobby wrote 
to the discouraged recruiters: 

I know the difficulties, the loneliness, the 
heartbreaking apathy you have faced. I 
know how hard it is, after weeks and months 
of discouragement, to dip deep into inner re- 
sources and start again with fresh enthusiasm. 
But I know, too, that you have such inner re- 
sources. ... If you can give fully of your 
own strength, your own conviction, your own 
faith and heartfelt patriotism, we will not fail 
now. 17 

For the success of the campaign, the WAC 
leaders depended frankly, as always in the 
Corps' history, upon these "inner re- 
sources," and upon motives which were 
matters of ideals and spirit. Major Rice 
took charge of the hundreds of conferences 
and interviews required by the All-States 
Campaign, quoting freely from Tom Paine 
concerning "summer soldiers and sun- 
shine patriots," and using a modern quo- 
tation also favored by Colonel Hobby as 
typifying the Corps' present slim chances 
of success: 

God of the hidden purpose 
Let our embarking be 
The prayer of proud men asking 
Not to be safe, but free. 18 

As the Corps poised upon the threshold of 
this crucial effort to restore itself, Major 
Rice informed a conference of service 
command recruiters: 

We know that there are millions of women 
who will join us now, if we can touch that 



spring of inner compulsion that causes people 
to forget self and fear of the unknown and 
strike out along the path that leads to their 
ideals. 1 " 



Sources of Assistance 

The campaign's organization was 
nevertheless highly practical, and was to 
stand as a model for all future efforts. To 
avoid misunderstandings, Army recruit- 
ing and induction officers from each serv- 
ice command and their WAC assistants 
were thoroughly briefed in a Washington 
conference on the entire plan. At the same 
time, the Army's Recruiting Publicity 
Bureau, in New York City, set its presses 
rolling to produce, in an unprecedentedly 
short time, portfolios of instructions for 
recruiters, with brightly colored and at- 
tractive posters, window cards, stickers, 
manuals, envelope stuffers, clip sheets, 
mats, and advertisements of all sizes.- 

Also, the War Advertising Council was 
approached and agreed to arrange free 
sponsored national advertising for the 
WAC as it was doing for other agencies. 
Recruiters were also instructed in how to 
get free advertising on a local level; many 
firms were found to be willing to aid the 
war effort by contributing advertising 
space, or by including a Wac in their 
usual advertisements. Many posters and 
other aids were also sponsored by various 
business groups. For example, the Stand- 

1S Ltr, WAC Hq to Rctg Off. Ft Bragg. N. (!.. 2 
Aug 43, inc.] rpt of Lt Mary J. Norton, 22 jun-20Jul 
43. SPWA 415. 

17 Ltr, Col Hobby to all WAC recruiters, 20 Sep 43. 
SPWA 341 (8-6-43) sec \ b. 

18 Henry Morton Robinson, "Litany for a New 
AEF," reprinted in WAC Newsletter, Vol. I, No. 8, 15 
Jan 44. 

1! ' Speech. Min cited ln. TT1 

•" Office Memo, "F" for "R" [Capt Ruth F. Fowler 
for Maj Rice, both of WAC Rctg Sec], 21 Sep 43. 
SPWA 341 (8-6-43) sec lb. 



238 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ard Oil Company of Indiana sent its 
dealers 19,000 posters, "The Girl With the 
Star-Spangled Heart," to replace the pre- 
vious "Drain Old Oil Now." 21 

National civic and business organiza- 
tions by the dozen were approached by 
Colonel Hobby's staff, and agreed to men- 
tion the WAC in their trade publications 
and bulletins: the American Retail Asso- 
ciation, the National Dry Goods Associa- 
tion, the National Association of Theater 
Owners, five press associations, most 
magazine publishing firms, several film 
companies, the Mayor's Conference, the 
National Association of Broadcasters, the 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others 
as varied. 22 

Organized clubwomen of thirty-six na- 
tional organizations announced their sup- 
port after visits of their representatives to 
Des Moines. 

The Executive Committee of the Gov- 
ernors' Conference also gave a prelimi- 
nary indorsement which assured the Army 
that state governors would respond when 
officially called upon. 23 

Paid advertising was also authorized to 
supplement all the free publicity that the 
above agencies could contribute. Colonel 
Hobby asked that the Army allot $10.00 
per needed recruit for this purpose, chiefly 
for systematic coverage of Sunday news- 
papers. General Dalton disapproved this 
on the grounds that "no business which is 
forced to operate at a profit would con- 
sider such an appropriation," but he was 
overruled by General Somervell, who con- 
sidered that the situation merited the 
expenditure. As a matter of fact, the sum 
was somewhat less than that later used in 
postwar Army advertising to get compara- 
ble numbers of male recruits. 24 

As an added precaution Director 
Hobby in two different meetings with high 



War Manpower Commission officials 
cleared the All-States Plan. She was in- 
formed that, from 27 September to 7 De- 
cember, recruiting was authorized even 
in Class I and II areas, provided that no 
woman was taken from essential industry. 
A representative of WMC likewise stated 
this fact in a speech to the recruiters con- 
ference, and the Army published it to re- 
cruiters. In return the Army agreed to 
urge rejected WAC applicants to accept 
factory work. 2 "' 

The Air- WAC Plan 

Because the WAC's continued existence 
was virtually staked on this one campaign, 
the War Department decided to accept 
assistance from a source that it had pre- 
viously rejected — the Army Air Forces. 
The AAF had for months begged to be 
allowed to send out its own personnel to 
assist regular recruiters, the only proviso 
being that recruits so obtained could be 
promised assignment to the Air Forces. 
Such special-promise recruiting was not 
unknown to the Army; the Air Forces' re- 
cruiting teams, in a recent campaign to 
get 57,000 male aviation specialists, had 

- 1 (1) Memo, Dir WAC for Dir Pcrs ASF, 28 Aug 
43. SPWA 000.7 E. in ASF SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26- 
43). (2) Ltr. WAC Rctg Off, Chicago, to Dir WAC, 
27 Oct 43. SPWA 415. 

- 2 Memo. Capt Fowler for Maj Rice, 2 1 Sep 43. 
SPWA 341 (8-6-43) sec \ b. 

-■■ (1) WDBPR Press Release, 20 Sep 43. (2) Min 
cite d n. 131 

" (1) Memo, WAC Hq for CG ASF, 2 Aug 43: (2) 
Memo, Dir WAC for Gen Dalton, 25 Aug 43. SPWA 
000.7 (8-25-43). (3) History: Office of the Director of 
Personnel. Army Service Forces 20 Jul 42-1 Sep 45. 
OCMH. Hereafter cited as ASF Pers Hist. (4) For 
army postwar advertising contract, see Washington 
Post', February 18. 1949. 

23 (1) Memos, Dir WAC for G-l , 1 6 Oct 43. 24 Aug 
43, and 30 Sep 43. SPWA 000.77 (1-4-43). (2) Speech 
of Mr. Stephen W. Wood. WMC. Min dtc j n. 14| (3) 
Ltr, TAG to all SvCs. 12 Sep 43. AG 341 PR-I-E. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



239 



recruited 128,000 almost before the cam- 
paign could be shut off. Nevertheless, 
Colonel Hobby had consistently rejected 
these offers, pointing out that special 
promises to recruits — their choice of 
branch or station — were undesirable and 
that difficulty and hard feeling would 
later result, particularly since earlier re- 
cruits had no such choice. 26 

Army Service Forces recruiting experts 
now informed Colonel Hobby that the 
WAC would have to abandon its stand 
against special promises, saying, "The 
persistent decline in WAAC recruiting re- 
sults, along with the increasing need for 
women in the Armed Forces, make it es- 
sential to open the door immediately for 
special WAC recruiting plans." 27 It was 
therefore decided to adopt the Air- WAC 
Plan to supplement the All-States Plan; 
the Air Forces would not compete, but 
would bring in women who would be part 
of the state companies until trained. 
Branch recruiting thus became an ac- 
cepted fact, although the other two Army 
branches — AGF and ASF — did not at this 
time decide to give any personnel to the 
project. The AAF at once prepared to 
throw hundreds of additional recruiters 
into the struggle. 28 

The Quota 

On the eve of the campaign, Major 
Rice estimated that the take would be 
10,000 in the approximately two months 
between 27 September, when the cam- 
paign opened, and 7 December, when it 
closed. Colonel Hobby optimistically 
hoped for 35,000, and asked that Fort 
Sheridan be made available in case the 
three remaining WAC centers were in- 
adequate. The Adjutant General insisted 
that the higher goal of 70,000 be set, since 



70,000 casualties had been sustained to 
date. Colonel Hobby deplored this move, 
saying, "It is negative psychology to have 
an impossible quota"; she recommended 
a quota of approximately 17,000 for the 
entire period, which was disapproved by 
the Army Service Forces. Major Rice at- 
tempted to use merely the number of those 
killed in action instead of all casualties, 
but the number 70,000 was chosen by the 
Secretary of War and used in all publicity 
releases. Actually, G-3 Division of the 
War Department had hopefully included 
200,000 Wacs in the Troop Basis for 1943, 
but with the provision that more men 
could be drafted if women failed to volun- 
teer. The most impossible figure of all 
came from The Adjutant General's Office, 
which calculated that 631,000 Wacs were 
needed at once to prevent the drafting of 
fathers. The figure of 600,000 was used by 
General Marshall in his public speeches, 
to emphasize the extent of the Army's 
need, but was never considered a real 
quota. 29 

The Campaign 

On the last day of August 1943, the All- 
States Campaign went into action with 
the precision and co-ordinated effort of a 

26 Memo, AAF for G-l, 29 Jun 43. Published 4 Sep 
43, AGO Memo W635-21-43, Participation of AAF 
in WAC Rctmt. SPWA 341 (8-6-43) sec lb. 

Memo, Lt Col C. C. Curtis for Dir WAC, 1 1 Aug 
43. SPWA 341 (8-6-43) sec 16. 

- s Ltr, TAG to SvCs, 12 Oct 43. AG 341 WAC 
PR-I. in SPWA 341 (8-6-43) sec la. 

2li (l) Rice estimate made to author and co- 
workers. (2) Hobby estimates in 1st Ind to Dir Pers 
ASF. to Memo cited n. 27. (3) Hobby nuote from Min 
cited lfTUI Also Memo, Dir WAC for Dir Pers ASF, 19 
Aug 43. SPWA 341 (8-10-43) R, in SPAP 341 
WAAC (2-26-43). (4) Ltr, SW to Bur of Budget, 15 
Jul 43. WDGAP 320.2 WAAC, in CofS 29 1.9 WAAC. 
(5) ByExec Order 9364, top limit to strength of WAC 
was set at 200,000, as published in WD Bulletin 17, 
4 Aug 43. 



240 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ALL-STATES RECRUITING CAMPAIGN. Governor Leverett Saltonstall of Massa- 
chusetts cuts the ribbon opening a WAC recruiting booth. Standing next to the Governor is Mayor 
Maurice J. Tobin of Boston. 



military invasion. Exactly twenty-seven 
days were allotted to softening up the 
public before the recruiters landed. Gen- 
eral Somervell opened the barrage on 31 
August with a personal telegram to the 
commanding generals of all service com- 
mands Stating, DIRECTOR HOBBY WILL CON- 
TACT YOU ON WAC RECRUITING PLAN WHICH 
HAS MY APPROVAL. URGE FULL SUPPORT. 

On the same day and the next, Colonel 
Hobby made personal long-distance tele- 
phone calls to these commanding generals, 
explaining the plan. In the following 
week, full details were placed in the hands 
of recruiters assembled in Washington. 30 



On 10 September, General Marshall 
sent a personal letter to each state gover- 
nor, saying, "I am appealing to you for 
assistance. . . ." il This was followed by 
immediate visits to the governors by serv- 
ice command representatives. In the 



30 (1) TWX, CG ASF to SvCs 31 Au g 43. SPWA 
341 (8-6-43) sec 14. (2) Min cited ln. 14J 

31 The following discussion is based on: (1) Ltxs, 
CofS to the 48 governors, 10 Sep 43. SPWA 341 (8-6- 
43) sec la; also in CofS 291.9 with replies. (2) Ltrs, 
WAG Stf Dir 7th SvC, 1 1 and 30 Sep 43. SPWA 341 
sec lb. (3) Ltrs, Maj Gen Kenyon A.Joyce, 9th SvC, 
and others. SPWA 341 sec la (1943). (4) Proclama- 
tion, 18 Sep 43, with other proclamations. SPWA 341 
(8-6-43) sec la. (5) Copy in Ltr, Young & Rubicam 
to Maj Jess Rice, 19 Oct 43. SPWA 000.7. 




ALL-STATES RECRUITING CAMPAIGN. Texas state flag is held by a WAC officer 
during a ceremony for recruits in front of the State Capitol, Austin, Texas. 



Seventh Service Command, Maj. Gen. 
Frederick E. Uhl took a plane and per- 
sonally visited each state. The governors' 
responses were in most cases immediate; 
they appeared eager to be called upon for 
a further part in the war effort. Many 
issued proclamations such as 

Whereas the successful prosecution of the 
war requires the enrollment of adequate 
manpower and [five other whereas's]. . . . 
Now therefore I, John W. Bricker, Governor 
of the State of Ohio, do hereby call for volun- 
teers for service in the WAC. ... I do fur- 
ther call upon mayors and other govern- 
mental authorities . . . upon all citizens, 
newspapers, and radio stations ... to the 
end that the State of Ohio may fully achieve 
her goal in this great national objective. 



The governors appointed committees in 
every community, consisting ordinarily of 
local officials and prominent citizens, 
whose efforts were co-ordinated by WAC 
recruiters. Many governors and mayors 
allowed the use of their names in local ad- 
vertisements, for example: 

WOMEN OF FITCHBURG 

A Message from your Governor: 
Throughout the history of America, men 
and women of the Commonwealth have 
never failed to answer the call of service to 
their country. ... I am confident that once 
again the daughters as well as the sons of 
Massachusetts will have proved their right to 
our great heritage. 

[Signed] Leverett P. Saltonstall 



242 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



At the same time, the weight of General 
Marshall's personal prestige was thrown 
into the campaign in a national press re- 
lease which, on 15 September, described 
the plan to the public. This was supported 
by paid advertisements on a co-ordinated 
theme placed in Sunday papers by Young 
& Rubicam. 32 

On 27 September, the doors were for- 
mally opened to All- States recruits. An 
unprecedented concentration of recruiting 
activity resulted: it appeared doubtful 
that any inhabitant of the United States 
failed to hear of the WAC if he could read, 
listen to the radio, or be reached by a citi- 
zen's committee. The Office of War Infor- 
mation for the next three weeks devoted 
to the WAC most of the free facilities 
offered it by radio stations, ordinarily used 
for such projects as bond sales and food 
conservation; 17,000 messages were broad- 
cast over 891 radio stations, plus 150 plugs 
on network programs and special, na- 
tional, and spot programs. The Army Air 
Forces on 18 October threw teams totaling 
358 officers and 1,136 enlisted personnel 
into the campaign. The WAC Band 
toured; governors continued to issue state- 
ments, which Young & Rubicam caught 
up and published; governors whose states 
led were congratulated, others were 
chagrined, and some even went on per- 
sonal speaking tours. In general, recruiters 
seasoned by earlier campaigns seldom 
fumbled, and publicity was uniformly 
good. 33 

State companies were shipped to train- 
ing centers as fast as enough for a com- 
pany were recruited. The women were 
ordinarily assembled at the state capitol 
building or some other historic spot, where 
they were sworn in with much ceremony, 
martial music, parades, crowds, and pub- 
licity, and presented by the governor with 



a state flag to carry at the training center. 
Some states thus recruited several com- 
panies in succession. No one WAC train- 
ing center had sufficient capacity to hold 
forty-eight companies, but the spirit of the 
idea was preserved, and each training 
center parade had a display of from fifteen 
to twenty state flags. Competition among 
state companies was keen, and most re- 
cruits were kept in a state of high morale 
by the favorable attention given them by 
home-town newspapers and by their in- 
troduction to the governor and to other 
prominent citizens. 31 

Altogether, WAC and Army authorities 
were highly pleased with the prospects. 
Colonel Hobby called the plan "the best 
recruiting device we have ever had." The 
campaign seemed well on the way to 
achieving some of the more optimistic pre- 
dictions. Well-nigh faultless in its organ- 
ization, and highly effective in achieving 
the desired effect upon the public, it ap- 
peared that it could have been stopped 
only by one thing — an order from author- 
ity higher than the Army. And this was, in 
effect, what stopped it in many areas. 

Opposition of the War Manpower Commission 

No sooner was the All-States Campaign 
well launched than the Army discovered 

S -'{1) YVDBPR Press Release, 15 Sep 43. (2) 
Spe ech, Mr. Lcnz. Young & Rubicam. Min cited n. 

ED 

3 " (1) Speech. Mr. Fcrbanks, OWL Min cited |n. 14.| 
(2) AAF WAC Hist, p. 57; also AG Ltr cited ETTHI (3) 
TWX, Comdt 1st WAC Tng Con to Dir WAC, 4 Oct 
43. SPWA 341 sec lb, (4) Ltrs of thanks, Dir WAC to 
CGs of SvCs, 1 1 Sep 43. SPWA 341, sec 1*; and Ltrs, 
Governors to Gen Marshall, Nov-Dec 43. CofS 291,9. 
(5) Memo, Dir WAC for Secy GS, 12 Nov 43. SPWA 
341 (8-6-43) sec U. (6) Speech, Maj Rice. Min, WAC 
Stf Dirs Conf. New York, 1-3 Dec 43, SPWA 337 (11- 
10-43). 

34 Ltr. Attv Gen of Ohio to Dir WAC, 5 Oct 43, 
and reply. SPWA 341 sec \b. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



243 



that the War Manpower Commission was 
again ignoring not only its two agreements 
with the Army but the August directive 
from its superior, Director of War Mobili- 
zation Byrnes. In spite of WMC clearance 
of the All-States Plan, regional WMC of- 
fices in five of the nine service commands 
not only suppressed local WAC recruiting 
publicity, but, speaking as "The United 
States," released headlines such as one in 
Connecticut: u.s. forbids wac drive in 

CITY AS THREAT TO WAR EFFORT. In Macon, 

Georgia, bewildered recruiters were con- 
fronted with an ultimatum from the 
WMC area director saying, "I have de- 
cided it would not be feasible to continue 
with this [recruiting] program. This is a 
result of Macon being an extreme labor 
shortage area, and every woman who 
would be acceptable to the WAC could be 
used to advantage in war industries." The 
Office of War Information withdrew radio 
support in such localities as directed by 
local WMC officials saying that it had no 
other choice. 35 

The most charitable interpretation that 
could be put upon this action was that the 
War Manpower Commission had been 
slow in informing its regional offices of the 
Byrnes decision and of its own official 
clearance of the All-States Plan. When 
questioned by telephone, WMC officials 
at first gave this explanation, saying, 
"Frankly, they should have gone out quite 
some time ago." However, a few days later 
an executive staff meeting was held, of 
which Major Rice was informed, "Fact is, 
it was a complete nullification both in the 
chairman's office and the executive staff of 
the things we had discussed as explora- 
tory." Major Rice at once pointed out that 
the WMC's commitments had not been 
exploratory, that WMC representatives 
had stated them at official meetings, that 



the Army had spent a million dollars and 
staked the Chief of Staff's prestige upon 
them, and that "we are in a pretty desper- 
ate condition, with time running out on 
us." 3G 

Director Hobby called to the War De- 
partment's attention "the fact that we had 
begun the All-States Campaign believing 
that we had clearance . . . the fact that 
with the best recruiting device we have 
ever had, we have been barred by the 
WMC area directors from making any 
effort to reach many thousands of women 
in areas of essential industry who are not 
themselves engaged in essential in- 
dustry." 37 

High-level negotiations with the War 
Manpower Commission began again. The 
WMC now refused to inform its area di- 
rectors of its previous clearance of the All- 
States Campaign unless the Army agreed 
to use the WMC list of thirty-five essential 
industries, which Director Byrnes had 
already disapproved, instead of the shorter 
Army list which he had approved. Mr. 
McNutt's office also demanded that its 
area directors be given power to add in- 
dustries to the list at their discretion, to 
veto any objectionable activity, and to 
supervise all WAC advertising copy. 38 

Rather than thus renounce the advan- 
tages that the Byrnes decision had decreed 
for it, the Army chose to fight the matter 

15 (1) Sources cited ln. 251 (2) Memo, Dir WAC for 
G-l, 4 Oct 43. SPWA 000.77 (1943). (3) Ltr, Ralph 
E. Haines, Area Dir WMC, Macon, Ga., to CO 
Cochran Field, 8 Oct 43. SPWA 341 sec \b. (4) 
Memo, Maj Rice for Dir Hobby, with rpt of 5 Oct 
conf with TAG, G-l, and OWI; (5) Bridgeport 
(Conn.) Post, in Ltr, Maj Gen Sherman Miles, 1st 
SvC, to WAC. SPWA 000.77 (1943). 

38 (1) Tp Convs, Maj Rice and Mr. Broughton, 5 
Oct 43, and another, no date. G-l WAC 312.9, 
Drawer 6, DRB AGO. 

37 Memo citedEZEETJ] 

3S Tp Conv. Col Hobby and Mr. Broughton, 15 Oct 
43. G-l WAC 312.9, Drawer 6, DRB AGO. 



244 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



through. The negotiations dragged on for 
some time and were not to reach a work- 
able conclusion until the following year. 
Meanwhile, the brief All-States Cam- 
paign, which had depended for effect on 
its impetus and concentration, was some- 
what blunted in many areas, and reached 
its final deadline on 7 December without 
feeling any benefit from the negotiations. 

There was no way of computing the 
exact loss which had been occasioned by 
the War Manpower Commission's action. 
Major Rice believed that it was perhaps 
not as serious as the initial setbacks had 
indicated. In any case, it was clear that 
while the Army had at last made plain to 
the public its united support of the WAC, 
the government as a whole had not done 
so. Instead, the nation had approached a 
grave emergency without any clear defini- 
tion of the role of womanpower and its 
apportionment among competing agencies. 

Public Apathy 

The lack of support by civilian man- 
power control groups of the United States 
Government explained to some degree the 
public conviction that the matter was not 
important, and the resulting apathy, 
which recruiters encountered as the All- 
States Campaign drew to a close in early 
December of 1943. One annoyed general 
reported that in his service command there 
appeared to be three types of women: (1) 
patriotic, who had already taken essential 
civilian work or enlisted in the WAC; (2) 
patriotic but mercenary, who were inter- 
ested only in the highest-paying war jobs; 
and (3) "The leisure class, who like to go 
down to the USO, dance with the boys on 
Saturday night, and think they are mak- 
ing their contribution to the war effort 
that way. They make all these talks, ap- 



pear in theaters, put up placards, appear 
before women's clubs, talk to everybody in 
the world, but when it comes to getting 
them \o sign up, they say no soap." 39 

The Army's highest-ranking officers 
now became personally aware of the fac- 
tors affecting WAC recruiting as never 
before in the Corps' career, since the All- 
States Campaign put the responsibility 
upon them as well as upon community 
leaders. General Dalton personally tele- 
phoned the commanding generals of serv- 
ice commands to read them a long list of 
ideas to get recruits. He told each 
pointedly, "I wonder if you've gotten 
word down to all ranks that General 
Marshall and the rest of the top people 
have an intense interest in this WAC 
recruiting." 40 

The difficulty in getting a woman re- 
cruit at first amazed, then exasperated, 
then spurred to action the commanding 
generals concerned. Even the service com- 
mander who led the field was dissatisfied 
and observed to General Dalton: "I don't 
know what is wrong. It just doesn't seem to 
take. . . . Well, we will put all we got in 
it, Joe." Another visited WAC recruiters 
at work and reported that "these people 
are up against a hard proposition" and 
needed all the co-operation that the Army 
could give. Still another noted how high- 
paying industry had stripped the area of 
qualified women, and stated, "If they're 
not just children, overaged, or a little 
moronic or something, they've quit, 
they've gone away." The interest and in- 
dignation of these officers worked to the 
WAC's advantage in that, recruiters re- 
ported, they were now able to get from 
their headquarters better transportation, 

^Tp Calls, Dir Pers ASF to CGs of SvCs. ] Dec 43, 
Reply of 2d SvG. ASF, SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26-4-3). 
*" Ibid. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



245 



personnel, and station locations than had 
previously been made available. 41 

The Army Air Forces recruiters received 
a similar shock. Employing tactics that 
had recruited 128,000 male mechanics in 
a short time, they were able to get, in the 
entire month of November, only about 
1,500 Wacs. One AAF officer reported: 

I never saw anything as tough. When our 
team hit one Florida city, we closed the 
place — actually got the mayor to close 
schools and stores so everyone would come 
to our parade and rally. We got important 
speakers, generals, war heroes. Better than 
50 planes flew overhead forming the letters 
WAC. That night we had a big dance for 
prospects, with good-looking pilots as dates. 
Results? We didn't get one Wac in that town. 
Some of the local girls put in applications to 
please their escorts, but withdrew them the 
next day. 42 

It soon was apparent to the Air Forces that 
there was one important difference in the 
mechanics' campaign and the WAC cam- 
paign — the men had been faced by even- 
tual draft and so had been happy to have 
a choice of branch, job, and station near 
home, whereas the women were not faced 
by any such compulsion. Nevertheless, the 
Air Forces persisted, and by December 
were getting more than half of the total 
intake. 43 

The Success of the All-States Campaign 

In spite of the opposition of the War 
Manpower Commission and the public 
apathy, the All-States Campaign proved 
the most successful the Corps was ever to 
undertake. The intake of 4,425 in its final 
month was better than anything that had 
ever been achieved with comparably 
high enlistment requirements. 44 The final 
tally showed that the drive had netted 
10,619 recruits, slightly over the 10,000 



that Major Rice had predicted. No later 
campaign, even the highly successful Gen- 
eral Hospital Campaign in 1945, was ever 
to achieve equal numbers in so short a 
time. 

Even better than its immediate results, 
in Colonel Hobby's opinion, was its con- 
tinuing effect in overcoming the slander 
campaign. Major Rice praised the "won- 
derful civilian cooperation, that will reap 
results for months to come." 45 A new 
Gallup survey in the closing months of the 
year showed that, the Director stated, 
"Public attitude is now definitely favor- 
able to the WAC — more so than at any 
time since its organization." 16 Surveys 
showed that, among eligibles, 83 percent 
now knew that the WAC was part of the 
Army, and 85 percent knew that the WAC 
needed more women. When asked, 
"Which service needs women the most?" 
eligibles replied: WAC — 58 percent; 
WAVES — 14 percent; Marines — 14 per- 
cent; SPARS — 4 percent; Don't know — 5 
percent. If drafted, women stated that in 
making a choice they would give the WAC 
a slight edge on other enlisted women's 
service. 47 

General Dalton, while objecting to the 
cost per recruit, stated that the campaign 
had led to a better organized and success- 
ful recruiting service. Recruiting proved 
to be permanently restored, even though 

11 Ibid., replies of CGs, 2d, 5th, and 9th SvCs. 

42 Related to author by Capt Dewey Couri, EFTC, 
at WAC Rctg Conf, Chicago, Feb 44. 

13 Memo, Maj. Rice for G-l. 28 Dec 43. SPWA 
341 (1-1-43) sec 2. 

44 Higher totals had been achieved only in the win- 
ter of 1942-43 when enlistment requirements were 
drastically cut and unassignables admitted. 

45 Min cite d n. 33 (6). I 

46 Memo, Dir WAC for CG ASF, 27 Nov 43, sub: 
Plan for WAC Rctmt, 7 Dec 43-15 Apr 43. SPWA 
341 (ll-27-43)B, i n ASF, SP AP 341 WAAC (2-26- 
43). Also Min cited |n. 33(6)1 

4T Min cited |n. 33gg . 



246 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



to a modest level, and was to average 
more than 3,000 a month until the last 
days of the war. The campaign had thus 
answered the question of whether the 
WAC could survive: it could. On the 
other hand, the days of expansive plan- 
ning in terms of millions were obviously 
ended, although it was always difficult for 
planners completely to relinquish visions, 
which had been held since the first World 
War, of the effortless and inexpensive ac- 
quisition of thousands of female volun- 
teers. 48 

Revival of Plans to Draft Women 

The ruinous expense of recruiting com- 
petition was now so clear that the Army, 
even before the end of the campaign, re- 
vived the question of drafting women, 
which had been rejected by the General 
Staff less than a year before as impossible. 
The Chief of Staff in early autumn per- 
sonally directed Colonel Hobby to prepare 
a memorandum on the "selection of 
women for military duty." 49 This she did, 
noting, "A year's experience indicates the 
improbability of attaining, through volun- 
tary enlistments, an adequate supply of 
womanpower to perform essential mili- 
tary services." 60 The Director was now 
thoroughly convinced that the American 
public looked on the draft as the proper 
means of meeting military needs. To a 
military conference, she stated, "I believe 
that it is as fair to ask volunteers for serv- 
ice as to ask for volunteers to pay 
taxes. . . . When people are asked, 'Why 
aren't you in the Service?', they remark, 
'Oh, come now, if the Government really 
needs us they will draft us.' " 51 

The plans now made were far more ex- 
tensive than those that the Army had 
attempted in its similar legislative study 



during the manpower crisis of the year 
before. It was noted that by this time the 
British Government already had reg- 
istered women in the 1 9-40 age group and 
had power to direct some 17,000,000 of 
them into the armed services or industry. 
The British had found it advisable to give 
local industrial jobs to women with domes- 
tic responsibilities, and to emphasize 
mobility for the armed forces; younger 
mobile women were withdrawn from re- 
tail trades, the clothing industry, and even 
the government, and replaced by the non- 
mobile. By this means thousands of women 
were being successfully called up each 
week. Some 91 percent of single women 
and 80 percent of married women of ages 
18-40 were already reported to be work- 
ing directly in the war effort in Britain. 52 
The prospects in the United States 
looked even more favorable. Statistics 
from the Bureau of the Census showed 
that there were an estimated 18,000,000 
American women in the 18-49 age group 
without children under 18, of which over 
5,000,000 could probably meet the WAC's 
high requirements and pass all tests and 
investigations. Of these, the Adjutant Gen- 
eral estimated that the Army would need 
to draft only 63 1,000. 53 



18 ASF Pers Hist. 

19 (1) Memo, Miss B. E. Lies for Dir WAC 9 Sep 
43. Folder, Ping Proj 27, WAAC Ping files. (2) Memo, 
Dir WAC for TAG, 1 1 Sep 43. SPWA 327.07. 

50 Memo, Dir WAC for CofS, 15 Sep 43. SPWA 
327. 02E. 

61 Remarks, Stf Dirs Conf, Chicago, 15-17 Jun 43. 
SPWA 337 (6-1-43). 

52 M/R, Summary of.Certain Aspects of British 
Womanpower Policy, 19 Aug 43. SPWA 327.02 Great 
Britain (1-19-43). 

53 (1) Memo cited n. 49(1) contains varying figures 
from Bur of Census, Bur Labor Statistics, 1940 Cen- 
sus, and WMC. Some estimates, with deletions for 
lack of education, etc., still left over 3,000,000 quali- 
fied. (2) Memo. TAG for Dir WAC, 15 Sep 43. 
SPWA 337.02. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



247 



The submitted version of legislation was 
therefore extremely liberal, and would 
have exempted all married women living 
with their husbands, all women with chil- 
dren or other dependents, women in es- 
sential industry or agriculture, nurses, 
physicians, public officials, and others in 
like category. The proposed law stated, 
"An obligation rests upon women as well 
as men ... to render such personal serv- 
ice in aid of the war effort as they may be 
deemed best fitted to perform." 54 

The Director's recommendation was 
that selection be scientific — by Army re- 
quirements, not numerical — since 80 per- 
cent of the jobs required skill and experi- 
ence, and the other 20 percent required 
the ability to acquire skill with short 
training. Unskilled and low-grade woman- 
power was not wanted. 

The American public seemed to be 
solidly behind the idea of drafting women. 
Gallup polls showed that 73 percent in 
October of 1943 and 78 percent in Decem- 
ber believed that single women should be 
drafted before any more fathers were 
taken. Single women of draft age them- 
selves endorsed their draft by a 75 percent 
majority, although stating that they would 
not voluntarily enlist so long as the Gov- 
ernment did not believe the matter im- 
portant enough to warrant a draft. Every 
section of the nation had large majorities 
favoring the drafting of women. 55 

Nevertheless, even its advocates soon 
realized that the plan would never be 
adopted unless serious military reverses 
occurred. Director Hobby stated in con- 
ference, " I think that what happens on 
the question of Selective Service depends 
on how long the war lasts. I do not think 
there is any thought of it in Congress at 
this time." 5fi 

Her prediction proved correct. The 



General Staffs G-l Division, after some 
consideration, decided that the only pos- 
sible strategy was to wait until national 
service legislation was sponsored elsewhere 
and then to request that the Army be 
included. Some sponsorship was immedi- 
ately forthcoming in the Austin-Wads- 
worth bill. 57 

The Austin- Wadsworth Bill 

Scarcely three weeks after the close of 
the All-States Campaign, there ensued a 
national manpower crisis which caused 
an actual "universal service" bill to be 
considered. In the winter of 1943-44, the 
Army's major training effort ended and its 
all-out offensive began. Overseas, the in- 
vasions of Normandy and of New Guinea 
were in the making. In January, the War 
Department announced that by the end 
of the year some 6,000,000 men still on 
training stations must be shipped over- 
seas; station overhead was to be combed 
for physically fit, well-trained troops. 58 

The nation's manpower economy was 
in poor condition to support the offensive, 
being at the moment in possibly the most 
critical condition of the war. Secret and 
pessimistic debates in the General Council 
showed that Selective Service calls were 
not being met and that there was small 
prospect that more than 80 percent of 
future calls would be met; planners con- 



54 Memo citec ^ n. 50, | 

55 Gallup Pol! results In Washington Post, April 2, 
1944. 

50 Remarks cited |n. 5T| 

65 (1) Memo, G-l for CofS, 23 Sep 43. WDGAP 
327 WAG Handwritten note: "I agree. GCM." (2) 
HR 1742 and S 666, 78th Cong, 1st sess, 8 Feb 43. 
Congressional Record, Vol. 89, No. 21, A 4-94. 

" (1) WA C Newsletter, Vol. I, No. 8, 15 Jan 44. (2) 
Washington Evening Star, January 27, 1944, "Army 
Shakeup to Double Forces Abroad." 



248 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



sidered calling up 400,000 men previously 
deferred as farmers. 39 The preliminary 
successes in Italy in the early fall had 
raised civilian hopes of immediate victory 
to such an extent that a stampede from war 
industries began. War Manpower Com- 
mission Chairman McNutt denounced the 
workers who "seek out a safe berth in non- 
war work of a permanent character." 
Ship deliveries declined by 40 percent; 
war industry noted a severe slump in pro- 
duction goals; and the recruiting of work- 
ers by the armed forces and defense 
industry redoubled in difficulty. 

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson told 
the Senate Military Affairs Committee 
that "the home front is on the point of 
going sour," and that the morale of fight- 
ing men would be seriously affected if 
civilians were left free to snap up the best 
postwar jobs. Therefore, Secretary of the 
Navy Frank Knox recommended that 
workers be frozen in their iobs in order to 
prevent disastrous absenteeism and turn- 
over of personnel. The Chief of Staff pub- 
licly warned the nation that it still failed to 
grasp the magnitude of the effort needed 
for victory." 

Heeding these pleas, Congress in Jan- 
uary turned to active consideration of the 
pending Austin-Wadsworth bill for "civil- 
ian selective service." 61 The heads of the 
armed forces threw their support behind 
the measure as a means of equalizing the 
sacrifices of military and civilian person- 
nel, warning that the war's great effort lay 
ahead of the nation and not behind it. 
From the viewpoint of the women's serv- 
ices, the measure appeared a sure means 
of ending recruiting costs and ensuring 
thousands of members. While the bill did 
not provide for the induction of women 
into the armed forces, it exempted enlistees 



from being drafted into farms and fac- 
tories. British reports alleged that, under 
a similar act, some 40 percent of women 
had attempted to choose military service. 82 

Unhappily for such hopes, the Austin- 
Wadsworth bill was opposed by the Amer- 
ican Federation of Labor — whose Presi- 
dent, William Green, called a labor draft 
"servitude" and "unconstitutional"— and 
by the Congress of Industrial Organiza- 
tions. Finally, when the Senate's Truman 
Committee announced its opposition, the 
bill was dropped. Wide-open competition 
for womanpower continued, under cir- 
cumstances which made the manpower 
shortages of 1942 and 1943 appear mere 
preliminaries. 83 

No accurate estimate was ever possible 
as to the cost to the nation of the absence 
of some such law to direct women into in- 
dustry or the armed forces. The Army's 
best estimate of the recruiting cost per 
Wac was $125, including advertising, re- 
cruiters' salaries, transportation, station 
rent, and all other expenses. This sum did 
not appear prohibitive when compared 
with the cost to the Army — $107 — of 
recruiting a female civilian worker who 
might resign at any time. While no aver- 
age figure was announced by civilian in- 
dustry for its recruiting, the amount spent 
on rallies, bands, scouts, and other recruit- 
ing activities by the aircraft industry and 
others was undoubtedly comparable. The 



59 Min, Gen Council, 24 Jan 44. 

80 Washington Post, January 10, February 2 and 4, 
and March 3, 1944. 

61 HR 3944, 78th Cong, 2d sess, 1 1 Jan 44. 

02 National Service Act of 1941 (no. 2). Memo, 
MPD SOS for G-l, 4 Nov 42. SPGAM 320.2 WAAC 
(9-15-42). 

" :i Washington Post, February 1 7 and 26, and March 
5, 1944. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



249 



Army, in return for its expenditure, had at 
least the assurance that its Wacs must 
stick to their jobs, whereas Mr. McNutt 
reported that in industry eight women 
were quitting for every ten who were 
recruited. 64 

Army Manpower Crisis 

As a result of the manpower situation, 
an Army directive advised all stations that 
they could not expect any additional mili- 
tary strength to replace, through the draft, 
the men shipped overseas. Commanders 
were told to replace their January losses 
and keep posts going as best they could by 
the use, in order of preference, of: (1) civil- 
ians, (2) Wacs, (3) men disqualified for 
overseas service, returned from overseas, 
over 35 years of age, or with less than 
twelve months of service. 65 

Misunderstandings at once arose over 
this order of listing, with Wacs and limited 
service men complaining that civilians 
were taunting them with being the less- 
desired type of personnel. The War De- 
partment hastened to explain that the 
situation was just the opposite: it had been 
intended that the few remaining men be 
saved for the jobs which only men could 
do, the Wacs for other completely military 
work, and civilians used for all else. When 
asked by a staff officer, "Why did the War 
Department, in their list of replacements, 
list civilians first and Wacs second?" Gen- 
eral Dalton replied, "For the simple rea- 
son that Wacs are included in the military 
strength and we need the military for other 
purposes. We are trying to use as many 
civilians as possible to release the military, 
male and female." 66 The War Depart- 
ment's G-l, General White, added, "We 
never use military personnel on a job 



that can be done by civilian employees if 
civilians can be obtained. . . . There is a 
serious shortage of WAC personnel. Mili- 
tary personnel must be used on assign- 
ments where we cannot use civilians." 67 

Sudden WAC Popularity 

With unexpected suddenness WAC 
stock soared to new heights at Army com- 
mands and stations. Greatly increased 
requisitions for Wacs came from sources 
new and old. The Medical Department, 
which two years before had refused to em- 
ploy Waacs, now stated, "With the expan- 
sion of hospitals and the withdrawal of 
enlisted men, there will be an urgent need 
for at least 50,000 additional Wacs to work 
in medical installations." The Chief Sig- 
nal Officer asked that Wacs be increased 
from 9 percent to 16 percent of the mili- 
tary personnel under his jurisdiction, com- 
plained of the "special appeals" with 
which Air Forces was securing recruits, 
and called for "aggressive action" to get 
more for the Signal Corps. 

Other administrative and technical 
services were in a similar predicament. 
Director Hobby returned from a brief trip 
to Europe in January of 1944 with further 
requests from the European and Mediter- 
ranean theaters for more Wacs. At the 
same time a request for 10,000 Wacs was 
received from the Pacific theater, which 
had refused to employ them up to this 



61 Memo, TAG for G-l, 28 Feb 44, sub: Estimated 
Per Capita Cost of WAC Rctg. PR E, WAAC classif 
files, under "budget." 

85 WD Cir 293, 1 1 Nov 43; also ASF Cir 21, Sec II, 
24 Jan 44. 

Min of Rctg Conf, Feb 44. SPWA 337. 

B7 Ltr, G-l to Hon Francis Case, 9 Mar 44. 
WDGAP 322 WAC, WD WAC 330.14. 



250 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



time. The War Department, which had 
previously banned the use of Wacs in the 
Washington area, shortly reversed the de- 
cision and gave itself first priority on the 
most highly skilled recruits, to the consid- 
erable annoyance of field agencies. The 
agency habitually the most cautious about 
employing Wacs, the Army Ground 
Forces, had only a few months earlier 
asked that its Wac quota be cut from 5 
percent to 3 percent of the intake; in a 
quick reversal it now asked for a "more 
equitable distribution" and that its quota 
be raised from 3 percent to 8 percent/' 8 

The situation prompting this sudden 
popularity was graphically stated to the 
Air Forces by General Arnold: 

If there is a man left in your organization 
who does not recognize that the bulk of the 
men he now has working for him are going to 
be shipped abroad, and that if he does not 
train and use the available Wacs, civilians, 
and soldiers physically unfit for combat, he 
will have no one to do his job — if there is such 
a man, he is a definite danger to your organ- 
ization. Ga 

In the Army Service Forces, General Som- 
ervell warned his service commanders that 
"You must . . . give your personal atten- 
tion to the eventual taking over by the 
Wacs of many of the jobs in your com- 
mand." 70 

The Chief of Staff himself went so far as 
to authorize release to the general public 
of the precedent-shattering statement that, 
for American women, "aside from urgent 
family obligations, enlistment in the military 
takes precedence over any other responsibility 
He added, "It is important that the gen- 
eral public understand the Army's urgent 
need for women to enable the military 
effort to go forward according to the 
schedule of operations in prospect." 71 



The Job-and-Station Promise 

In response to the Chief of Staffs plea, 
the WAC was forced into its final compro- 
mise for recruiting success: the adoption 
of the plan labeled SJA or Station-Job 
Assignment. At an earlier date, the Army 
Air Forces had proposed that its recruiters 
be allowed to promise recruits not only 
assignment to the Air Forces, but assign- 
ment to a particular station for a specified 
type of work — a system quite comparable 
to the hiring of civilian employees. Such a 
plan was generally admitted to be the best 
possible means of securing parental ap- 
proval to a woman's enlistment, or of 
recruiting women with responsibilities that 
made them unwilling to leave the area of 
residence. The system also had the advan- 
tage of making it possible to fit the sta- 
tions' needs exactly, and to recruit no 
skills useless to the Army; it had in fact 
been developed originally in the days of 
expansion planning as a means of prevent- 
ing overrecruiting in any one skill. The job 
promise was also expected to attract the 



" s (1) Memo, SGO for Dir Pers ASF, 1 1 Feb 44, 
with Inds, etc. SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26-43). (2) 
Memo. SigC for CG ASF, 7 Jun 44. SPSMP 320.2 
WAC. SigC 322 WAC 1944-45, DRB AGO. (3) Ltr, 
SigC to CG ESCTC, Ft Monmouth, 15 Jun 44. 
SPSMP 320.2 WAC. (4) Min, Gen Council, 7 Feb 44. 
(5) D/F, G-l for TAG through CofS, 3 1 May 44; Incl 
and M/R. CSA 324.5 WAC. (6) Memo, ASF for 
TAG, 11 Jul 44. SPGAC 341 Gen ( 7- 1 1 -4*)-69. in 
SPAP 341 WAAC. 

Ltr. CG AAF to Air Forces and Comds. 22 Feb 
44 flab D to Memo. Dir WAC for CofS. 16 Mar 44V 
WD WAC 341. 

70 (1) Min, ASF Conf of CGs of SvCs, Chicago, 22- 
24 Jul 43, p. 3. (2) ASF Ltr to all SvCs, 22 Sep 43. 
SPGAP 201.6 Gen (9-18-43). Folder, Ping Proj 26, 
WAC Ping files. 

71 Memo, Secy WDGS for WDBPR, 21 Mar 44, 
CofS Personal file, made available to author, Decem- 
ber 1945, by courtesy of General Marshall's secretary. 
Author's italics. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



251 



skilled woman who had previously feared 
assignment to kitchen duties. A civilian 
survey revealed that 52 percent of the 
women questioned, although not planning 
to join the WAC, said that they might if 
they could be assured the job of their 
choice. Of this 52 percent, 50 percent 
wanted medical, radio, weather, clerical 
and other technical or mechanical work; 
only 2 percent wanted to be cooks or 
orderlies. 72 

At the time, the proposal had been re- 
jected by Director Hobby, on the grounds 
that such promises were exceedingly diffi- 
cult to fulfill; the promised job and even 
the station itself might have vanished be- 
fore the recruit reported for duty. Also, 
such promises would plainly cause ill will 
among previous recruits who desired to 
choose another job or station. 

A reversal of this decision was shortly 
proposed by the Army Service Forces. By 
the end of the All- States Campaign it was 
apparent that the Army Air Forces was, 
by means of the branch-assignment prom- 
ise, getting about two thirds of the monthly 
take as AAF branch recruits. In addition 
to these branch recruits, the AAF under 
the War Department ruling got its original 
40 percent of the general service recruits 
who elected no branch. A somewhat 
insignificant remainder was left to be 
divided on the customary basis of 57 per- 
cent to the ASF and 3 percent to the 
AGF. 7a 

General Dalton, speaking for the ASF 
and AGF, demanded of Colonel Hobby 
why the AAF was getting more publicity. 
He was reminded that neither the ASF or 
the AGF had chosen to participate in 
branch recruiting when the choice was 
offered them the previous October, while 
the AAF now had some 1,500 of its per- 



sonnel in the struggle. If anything, the 
War Department had hindered rather 
than helped the AAF in its publicity mak- 
ing, for it had forbidden the practice of 
saying, "Join the Air- WAC," which had 
occasionally caused the public to believe 
that a new and superior corps had been 
set up. The AAF was thenceforth obliged 
to say, "Join the WAC and Serve with the 
AAF," although the name Air-Wac was to 
stick as a title for the recruit herself. 74 

General Dalton therefore secured War 
Department approval for the publication 
of a circular giving the AGF and the 
ASF — but not the AAF — the authority to 
make the job-and-station promise to WAC 
recruits. An applicant's choice was limited 
to stations within the service command in 
which she applied, since before making 
the promise it was necessary to determine 
that housing and a job of the desired type 
existed at the chosen station. This bit of 
strategy gave the ASF and the AGF only 
a momentary advantage, since the AAF 
within a month secured G-l Division's 
authority to make the same promise for 
air stations within designated air com- 
mand areas. 75 

Station commanders now had a new 
and personal incentive to aid in WAC 
recruiting, since it was largely through 
their own efforts in the territory around 
their stations that their personnel needs 
might be filled. Many stations organized 

~ 2 (l)~Office Memo, "R. S." for Exec WAAC, 18 
Mav 43. Proj +, WAAC Ping files. (2) Folders 4, 19, 
21, 23, 1943 WAAC/WAC Ping files. 

Weekly Rpt 22, O Dir WAC for ASF, 2-8 Feb 44. 
" (1) Memo, Maj Rice for Dir Pers ASF, 15 Nov 
43. SPWA 341 sec lb, in SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26-43). 
(2) Memo, Col Catron for TAG, 27 Sep 43. SPWA 
341 sec la. 

™ (1) WD Cirs 286, 296, 298, and 340 (1943). (2) 
AG Ltr 320.3 (12-28-43) PR-I, 28 Jan 44. SPWA 341 
(8-6-43) sec \a (1943). 



252 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



part-time teams of station personnel to 
comb the surrounding area for recruits. 
General Arnold informed air bases, "The 
sole opportunity for station commanders 
to fill vacancies created by overseas ship- 
ments is to undertake active participation 
in Air- WAG recruiting." 7S 

Considerable commotion and some 
confusion resulted as competing teams 
took the field. Airfield teams were espe- 
cially numerous, but ports, hospitals, Sig- 
nal Corps stations, and many others also 
participated in station-job recruiting. 
Posters for Air-Wacs, Port Wacs, and other 
varieties of Wacs offered a choice of ad- 
vantages. 

As expected, the administrative failure 
to fulfill these promises was higher than in 
the All-States Campaign: papers became 
lost; women insisted that they had been 
promised assignments which did not ap- 
pear on their papers; Colonel Hobby's 
office was besieged by letters from Con- 
gressmen and parents, and was obliged to 
instigate endless investigations as to 
whether certain claims had any founda- 
tion. Some failures to comply with prom- 
ises were inevitable, as the changing mili- 
tary situation caused certain jobs or even 
the stations themselves to be closed out 
before recruits finished training and re- 
ported for duty, or as women proved 
unqualified for the jobs which they had 
been promised. 

Another disadvantage was the schism 
created in the previously close ranks of the 
Corps. Women who were approaching 
eighteen months' service, and especially 
those who were vainly applying for trans- 
fer to a different type of work, station, or 
climate, or to be nearer home, were likely 
to look with less than sisterly affection 
upon recruits who had not enlisted until 
the job-and-station promise was made. 



The newcomers themselves were often 
ignorant of recruiting history and thus 
bewildered at their chilly reception by 
their barracksmates. Deputy Director Rice 
wrote all staff directors to appeal to the 
women's soldi erliness: "I have the faith in 
the Corps that makes me believe that the 
vast majority of its personnel have learned 
that there is more to being a good soldier 
than just putting on a uniform and learn- 
ing to drill and salute." 77 The veteran 
Wacs were to have need of this soldierliness 
often during the remaining months of the 
war, as more and more attractive promises 
came to be offered to meet the competi- 
tion for woman power. 

Because of the women's reaction, Colo- 
nel Hobby consistently refused repeated 
recommendations that the WAC make an 
even more alluring promise: that of over- 
seas assignment. Since it remained impos- 
sible to give overseas assignments to many 
Wacs who had continuously sought them 
during months of service, she believed it 
unwarranted to grant these scarce plums 
to attract latecomers. 

Results of the Job-and-Station Plan 
varied with the energy and the natural 
advantages of the station. Some Air Forces 
stations, particularly the more glamorous 
ones of the Air Transport Command, dou- 
bled and tripled their WAC population, 
to the limits of their available housing. 
Others were not so fortunate. The com- 
manding officer of the Infantry Replace- 
ment Training Center at Camp Roberts 
sent a letter to each soldier saying, "If 
each man at this center would assist in 
recruiting just one woman for the WAC, 
there would be a sufficient number for a 



7S Ltr, AAF Hq to Air Comds, 15 Feb 44. SPWA 
341 sec la (1943). 

77 Personal ltr, Maj Rice to all SvC Stf Dirs, 10 Jan 
44. SPWA 341 see lb (1943). 



254 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



complete Division." However, in the fol- 
lowing months only two recruits were ob- 
tained and the proposed unit had to be 
closed out. Still other stations recruited 
well but not wisely; the Ground Forces 
replacement depot at Fort Meade found 
that it had selected women to do clerical 
work who were unskilled and untrainable 
for anything except car-washing. Further- 
more, some stations found themselves with 
a group of women who needed frequent 
leave and holidays to manage outside re- 
sponsibilities, or whose anxious parents 
attempted to take over company adminis- 
tration by telephone or in person. 78 

On a national scale, the returns were in 
direct proportion to the effort expended 
and to the attractiveness to the public of 
the various services. The Air Forces, which 
employed 1,500 recruiters on regular as- 
signments plus uncounted others on part- 
time teams, got 5,000 of the first 5,270 
branch and station-job recruits; the Serv- 
ice Forces 250, and the Ground Forces 
only 20. However, the Ground Forces had 
assigned only one officer, a first lieutenant, 
to recruiting duty, and had refused his 
request that returned combat heroes be 
added to his team; such, said the AGF, 
would be wasteful of personnel. The Air 
Forces never regretted the expenditure of 
recruiting personnel, and stated at the end 
of the war that the process "secured for the 
AAF over 27,000 workers, many of them 
highly skilled and many in the prized 
clerical field; and it tapped a manpower 
reservoir that could not otherwise have 
been tapped, so long as women were not 
directed into national service by some 
such system as selective service." 79 

Final judgments of the usefulness of the 
station-job system as a recruiting tool 
varied: on the one hand, it resulted in dis- 
appointments and administrative annoy- 



ances; and on the other, it continued to 
secure recruits, in the face of increasingly 
desperate competition, who could have 
been obtained in no other manner. For 
this reason, in spite of its obvious draw- 
backs, the system was to continue up to 
the closing days of recruiting, and was to 
be picked up in postwar Army recruiting 
with even more sweeping promises to male 
recruits, such as choice of overseas stations. 

Women-in-War Campaign 

In early January of 1944, the long nego- 
tiations with the War Manpower Commis- 
sion yielded the united recruiting drive 
that the Army had long been proposing. 
Labeled "Women in War," its aim was to 
urge women to accept some kind of full- 
time war work, whether in industry or in 
one of the military services. The OWI esti- 
mated that there were still five and one- 
half million idle women eligible for such 
work. However, questionnaires showed 
that the basic restraining factor was no 
longer a lack of knowledge of the need but 
a lack of interest. 

The OWI leveled all of its very consid- 
erable forces against this apathy. News- 
papers, motion pictures, magazines, radio, 
and all other civilian news media were 
fully at its command, and for several 
weeks all devoted their plugs to the theme 
of Women in War — -urging women impar- 
tially to join one of the armed services or 
to take a job in industry. Fifty national 
radio shows a week and countless local 
shows used the OWI's Fact Sheet. Stars 
and producers of the motion picture in- 
dustry co-operated by making two-and- 



; " Se e b asic AAF . AGF, ASF refs in Chs. KVO 
|XVII| and XVIII. I 

7S AAF VVAL1 Hist, p. 72. 



ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE RECRUITING 



255 



a-half-minute bulletins to be attached to 
newsreels, and 16-millimeter films for 
showing in churches, schools, and war 
plants. 

In the magazine field, 548 editors simul- 
taneously used the womanpower theme. 
Through its news bureau, the OWI placed 
free stories with every type of newspaper: 
news items were given to the wire services, 
human-interest stories to the syndicates, 
and special articles to the rural press, busi- 
ness press, labor, Negro, women's, and 
foreign-language press. Cartoonists and 
editorial artists at OWI's call featured an 
attractive Wac, Wave, nurse, or factory 
worker. As for posters, the nation's best 
artists contributed designs, while the 
OWI's Boy Scout Distribution Service 
handed out 750,000 posters bi-monthly, 
as well as 50,000 car cards a month. The 
Outdoor Advertisement Association con- 
tributed twenty-four different billboard 
spreads. 80 

All of this united activity had little per- 
ceptible effect on public apathy or on the 
armed forces recruitment of women: the 
WAC returns merely held steady at slightly 
below the level set by the All-States Cam- 
paign. Recruiters were inclined to believe 
that, had armed forces and industry earlier 



achieved a united front in harmonious 
publicity, greater results would have been 
obtained. 

Campaign Conclusions 

The All-States Campaign, the Station- 
Job Plan, and the Women-in-War drive 
had to some extent counteracted the slan- 
der campaign and restored recruiting to a 
level that permitted the Corps' continued 
operation. Neither they, nor any plan ever 
used by the naval women's services, could 
do more. The final lesson for the armed 
forces, after all the furor of effort and 
speculation had died, appeared to be 
merely the same that it had already 
learned in previous wars: the American 
public would not, without conscription, 
furnish the required number of volunteers 
for military success. In retrospect it be- 
came hard to understand why — in a na- 
tion that had been obliged to conscript 
men since the Civil War and in which 
women's service had never been popularly 
accepted — it had ever been imagined that 
women would make a better response to 
recruiting appeals than had men. 

Memo, Asst Dir Rice for Dir WAC, 1 2 Jan 44. 
ASF SPAP 341 WAAC (2-26-43). 



CHAPTER XIV 



Integration Into the Army 



The business of changing the WAAC to 
the WAC had been virtually suspended 
while the All-States Plan was rushed into 
the line to make sure that there would be 
a WAC to continue. In October and No- 
vember of 1943, as some measure of re- 
cruiting success seemed assured, planners 
turned back to the business of converting 
the obsolete WAAC organization, with its 
own operating headquarters, into the new 
WAC. 

Upon the moment of conversion, an un- 
identified enthusiast in The Adjutant 
General's Office issued to the field the 
blanket directive that all Army Regula- 
tions would apply to the WAC until new 
WAC Regulations could be published. 
This superseded Director Hobby's plan to 
use WAAC Regulations in the interval. 
Outcry from the field soon made embar- 
rassingly clear that the matter was more 
complex than expected. The Adjutant 
General hastily rescinded the directive 
and replaced it with one reinstating 
WAAC Regulations on clothing, housing, 
training, medical care, and all other mat- 
ters with the exception of enlistment, dis- 
charge, and military justice, where Army 
rules would apply. The embarrassment 
continued: even this limited application of 
unqualified Army Regulations proved im- 
practicable. In the matter of enlistment, 
there was a different legally established 
age and citizenship requirement and sev- 
eral practical differences concerning de- 



pendency and disqualifying defects; in the 
matter of discharge, there were differences 
in at least eight matters, including minor- 
ity. As for pregnancy discharge, admission 
of infants to Army status was narrowly 
averted by resourceful field stations which 
gave discharges for disability to expectant 
mothers. 1 

Having thus perceived that some 
amendments to men's rules would be nec- 
essary, various Army agencies began to 
fight out the necessary differences. Dis- 
putes over the uniform regulations became 
so heated that it was necessary to detach 
them from the remainder of the regula- 
tions for later publication in the new year. 
Other matters were gradually agreed 
upon during the last months of 1943. 2 

Abolition of Separate Grades 

In the months before complete agree- 
ment could be reached, a makeshift cir- 
cular in late September took the first step 
toward integration by abolishing separate 
WAC grades, a step that appeared more 
startling to Army personnel officers than 
its nature merited. Civilian personnel al- 
lotments were of course not divided to 
specify which positions must be filled by 



' (1) AGO Memo W635-14-43; changes 1 (31 Aug 
43) and 2 (17 Sep 43). (2) Ltr, 2d SvC to O Dir WAC, 
22 Sep 43, and replv. SPWA 314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec4. 

Memo. G- 1 for G- 1 Enl Br, 31 Oct 43. SPWA 
300.3 (1-7-43) sec 2. 



INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 



257 



males and which by females, but for mili- 
tary personnel the merger of allotments 
aroused alarming visions of a merger of 
unit command and housing. 

The Air Forces took the lead in point- 
ing out that this need not necessarily fol- 
low: that women might well be assigned 
to the organizations for which they 
worked, while residing in their own bar- 
racks with a WAC commander possessed 
of full command powers. Major Bandel, 
Air WAC Officer, stated: 

It had become apparent that the [account- 
ing] troubles which arose came from thinking 
of WAC personnel as a special type of per- 
sonnel which had to be assigned, counted, 
and administered apart from all other types 
of military personnel. Insofar as their house- 
keeping went, Wacs obviously had to be ad- 
ministered separately; insofar as their jobs 
went, if they were to be utilized with maxi- 
mum efficiency they had to be administered 
as a part of the unit performing the job in 
question. Abolition of WAC grades would 
result in careful utilization, since Wacs would 
clearly count against a command's overall 
allotment of grades and personnel; maxi- 
mum freedom of assignment, since Wacs 
could be assigned without delay to any job 
for which a military grade vacancy had been 
established; and elimination of duplication 
in manning tables and reports. 3 

Major Bandel therefore proposed to the 
AAF that each station, instead of having 
two types of Tables of Allotment, male and 
female, have only one, and that either a 
man or a woman be placed in any author- 
ized job at the station's discretion, accord- 
ing to the qualifications and availability 
of personnel. 

Major Bandel was obliged to do con- 
siderable sales-work before her headquar- 
ters assimilated the plan, but the idea ap- 
pealed to the Air Forces once it was 
understood and was proposed to the War 
Department in August. A few months 



later the Air Forces also adopted a system 
for its men under which grades were not 
broken up among living units, but were 
retained at station level and distributed 
among various offices, while the squadron 
commanders retained all command and 
disciplinary powers. Major Bandel later 
received the Legion of Merit for her nu- 
merous contributions to the Air Forces' 
program, with particular reference to 
originating this idea for Wacs. 

In late September the War Department 
approved the AAF proposal for both the 
AAF and itself. Thereafter, all War De- 
partment grade allotments to the major 
commands were without reference to the 
sex of personnel. Any command might 
place a Wac in any suitable job for which 
it had an authorized military vacancy, 
without further formality or bookkeeping. 
The only limitation was upon the number 
of Wacs that could be furnished any com- 
mand; gradeless numerical WAC allot- 
ments continued to be made to Air, 
Ground, and Service Forces based on their 
usual shares. 4 

The Air Forces system of bookkeeping 
now became so simple that scarcely any 
extra load was incurred by the presence of 
women. Also ended was the whole cum- 
bersome system of WAC requisitions, 
which had so frequently been outdated 
before Wacs could be recruited, trained, 
and shipped. Instead, each station merely 
reported its current personnel shortages, 
by specialty number, and its housing 
capacity, by sex, and was likely to receive 
either a man or a woman, according to 
availability. In filling such shortages, Air 

AAF WAC Hist, p. 33fT. 
' (1) WD Cir 226, 22 Sep 43. Directed by D/F, G-l 
to TAG through CofS, 13 Sep 43. WDGAP 220.3, in 
CofS 291.9 WAAC. Rescinds AG Memo W635-3-43, 
31 Mar 43. (2) Memo, MPD ASF for TAG, 14 Oct 
43. SPWA 320.2 sec 6. 



258 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Forces headquarters was no longer obliged 
to compute WAC requirements and place 
a requisition. Instead, The Adjutant Gen- 
eral merely reported each week the num- 
bers and skills of WAC graduates to which 
the AAF's percentage entitled it, and these 
were ordered at once to the station having 
the most immediate need and the neces- 
sary housing. There was almost no WAC 
skill so unusual that the woman could not 
be utilized somewhere among the thou- 
sands of military jobs thus opened to Wacs. 
There was also no longer any tendency for 
a station to think of Wacs as an additional 
allotment, since it clearly had only one 
military quota. 

One major discrepancy in this integra- 
tion system was the failure to allot grades 
for WAC overhead. While the size of a 
men's unit might be somewhat reduced by 
the arrival of Wacs, it still required a first 
sergeant, a supply sergeant, a company 
clerk, and other key cadre members. Part 
of the WAC cadre thus did not replace 
men and constituted an extra administra- 
tive load on the station. 

Major Bandel's plan had included a 
provision for increasing each station's al- 
lotment by an allotment of WAC grades 
for cadre only; instead, the War Depart- 
ment went further and abolished all WAC 
grades. Stations were thus forced to make 
up an allotment for the cadre of the new 
unit by somehow withdrawing grades 
from other allotted activities. This was 
usually possible in the lower grades, but 
there was seldom a spare first sergeant's 
rating or a captaincy at any station, while 
other cadre members were more or less at 
the mercy of chance for their grades. Such 
a system not only lowered morale, but 
made it impossible to keep competent 
women in cadre jobs or as company 
officers. 



Major Bandel repeatedly tried to secure 
the recognition of WAC administration as 
a duty that required an allotment, but 
without success. The Air Forces was able 
to solve a part of the difficulty by author- 
izing the promotion of WAC first sergeants 
to the grade warranted by their job re- 
gardless of station strength allotments, 
and their retention thereafter as author- 
ized overstrength. No such solution for 
company officers was ever achieved. 5 

There was only one other flaw in this 
system: the fact that men's unit com- 
manders were accustomed to command all 
assigned personnel, and frequently at- 
tempted to usurp the normal powers of the 
WAC company commander in such mat- 
ters as discipline, uniform regulations, and 
hours of bed check. Such usurpation, 
where it occurred, invariably reduced unit 
discipline to a farce, divided the WAC 
company into quarreling factions under 
different rules and regulations, and re- 
sulted in insubordination to the WAC 
commander. The AAF solved this prob- 
lem without difficulty by spelling out in 
its regulations the fact that all normal 
command powers were reserved to the 
gradeless WAC unit. Actions in which 
both office chief and company commander 
were interested could be originated by 
either and co-ordinated with the other. 
Discipline was reserved to the WAC com- 
mander, either on her own initiative or 
upon receipt of a report from the section 
chief. 

One other difficulty, a psychological 
one, at times prevented full application of 
the system. The intention of the directive 
was that military personnel, like civilian, 
receive the grade allotted to the job each 

AAF WAC Hist. Also D/F, G-l for Dir WAC, 31 
Aug 43. WDGAP 320.2 WAC, in SPWA 320.2 

(7-23-43). 



INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 



259 



was filling. Actually, at almost all Army 
stations, there appeared to exist a deep- 
rooted idea that there should be a "wom- 
en's share," which should be equal to the 
"men's share"; that women should in fair- 
ness have the same percent of each grade 
that men held. In practice this caused 
widespread inequities, since all women 
sent to a station might be so unskilled that 
they merited no ratings, or they might all 
be so skilled that all merited ratings. 

In checking on the application of the 
directive, the Air Forces found male office 
helpers promoted above the Wac who ran 
the office, and WAC cooks refused the rat- 
ing that male cooks received, all on the 
grounds that the "women's share" was 
held by stenographers in headquarters. 
Another Air Forces directive promptly 
made it clear that the grade went with the 
job, regardless of the sex of the occupant. 
Elsewhere the idea of a share appeared 
too well fixed to suppress; even such a 
WAC authority as General White, on a 
visit to North Africa, directed that the 
theater provide "the same ratio of grades 
for WAC personnel as is provided for 
male." 6 

The Army Service Forces and the Army 
Ground Forces, for this reason, never 
chose to follow the Air Forces' system, but 
divided military grades into male and fe- 
male, and maintained separate allotments 
for the WAC unit. The motive was frankly 
stated as a fear that women, if not limited, 
would eventually collect more than their 
"share" of grades, since they usually filled 
skilled jobs and were more permanent em- 
ployees. As a matter of fact, in application 
the result was exactly the opposite: Wacs 
were fairly latecomers in the Army, and 
many commands were already so over- 
strength on rated men that promotions 
were frozen; thus the Air Forces Wacs 



fared no better than male latecomers, 
while the Service and Ground Forces 
Wacs had a reserved quota and were pro- 
moted even though men inducted at the 
same time could not be. The well-inte- 
grated Air Wacs were shortly outstripped 
in ratings by the segregated ASF and AGF 
Wacs, and complained frequently at the 
loss of "our grades." 7 



The Office of the Director WA C 

Second of the integration problems to 
be resolved was that of the reduction of 
WAAC Headquarters to form the new and 
smaller Office of the Director WAC, 
which had advisory duties but no operat- 
ing functions. Only about 25 officers and 
20 civilians were allotted the new Office of 
the Director; the remaining 75 officers 
and 46 civilians were scattered among the 
various Army Service Forces offices which 
now handled all operations. 8 With them 
went the files of their sections. All individ- 
ual 201 files were sent to The Adjutant 
General, who was thereafter responsible 
for cases concerning individuals: initial 
assignment, transfers, promotions, filling 
of requisitions, classification, discipline, 
and discharge, as well as for answering in- 
quiries from the public concerning the 
status of individuals. With this responsibil- 
ity The Adjutant General received Capt. 
Clara G. Han and her assistants, who had 
been managing classification and assign- 
ment in the WAAC. 

As for policy decisions concerning any 



6 D/F, G-l for TAG, 18 Oct 43. WDGAP 320.2 
WAG (9-10-43), in WDCSA 291.9. 

7 See details in chapters on services concerned. 

s M/R, 15 Feb 44, Justification for Civilian Posi- 
tions for FY 1945. WAC files. 



260 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



of these personnel actions, the responsibil- 
ity went to General Dalton's office, Mili- 
tary Personnel Division, ASF, with Maj. 
Florence Jepson to assist. Full authority 
over training policy as well as operation 
went to Military Training Division, Army 
Service Forces, accompanied by Maj. 
Elizabeth Smith. General Faith's Training 
Command was disbanded, and training 
centers were given to the service com- 
mands for administration, becoming Class 
I installations. 9 Similarly, recruiting, hous- 
ing, supply, overseas selection, and other 
functions were all transferred. 10 

Such removal of operating functions 
was in general enthusiastically received by 
the WAC staff, since it was the same action 
that they had recommended a year before 
and that had then been impossible in an 
auxiliary status. In the first burst of en- 
thusiasm for decentralization, the staff 
ruthlessly swept out of the office every dis- 
cernible operating duty, and forwarded 
public inquiries and field requests un- 
answered to other offices. 

In only two cases did the Director at- 
tempt to retain some supervision. She first 
asked that training centers be made Class 
IV installations, not under the service 
command for training doctrine and as- 
signments, but this was refused by the 
Army Service Forces. 1 1 She also asked that 
she retain the power of final approval over 
the moral character of women officers se- 
lected by Army commanders for overseas 
shipment; this was also objectionable to 
the Director of Personnel, ASF, and was 
rejected by the War Department. 12 

The vague relationship of the Office of 
the Director WAC to the operating agen- 
cies was a source of confusion which Di- 
rector Hobby in November requested the 
Army Service Forces to remove by pub- 



lishing a circular defining responsibility. 
While she was permitted to recommend 
policy on all WAC matters, the other of- 
fices had always been finally responsible 
for policy, and there was no requirement 
that any co-ordination take place. The 
Director therefore asked that ASF divi- 
sions be charged with the responsibility of 
keeping her office fully informed of WAC 
matters and of WAC policy originated by 
them. This request was rejected by Brig. 
Gen. Clinton F. Robinson of the Army 
Service Forces' Control Division, on the 



,J (1) Routing Slip, Asst Exec WAAG to Chief, Op- 
erating Div, 26 Jul 43. SPVVA 31 1.23 (1943). (2) 
Speech. Maj Jepson, Stf Dirs Conf. New York. 1-3 
Dec 43. SPWA 337 (1 1-10-43). (3) AGO Ltr 320.2 
WAG (10-7-43) PR-W-SPMOU, 31 Oct 43, incl 
WAC Tng Comd, effective 31 Oct 43. (4) Memo, O 
Dir WAC for MTD ASF, 19 Nov 43, SPW r A 210.63 
(1 1-19-43). (5) ASF Cir 110, 4 Nov 43. 

10 WAAC Supply, Housing, and Mobilization Sec- 
tions to Mobilization Division, ASF; Control Division, 
Historical Section to Control Division, ASF; WAAC 
Office of Technical Information to Office of Techni- 
cal Information ASF (later WD Bureau of Public 
Relations); WAAC Special Services to Special Services 
Division, ASF; WAAC Training Division to Military 
Training Division, ASF; Policy Functions of WAAC 
Personal Branch to Military Training Division, ASF; 
Classification, Assignment, Testing, Reassignment to 
AGO Classification and Assignment Branch; Recruit- 
ing to AGO Appointment and Induction Branch; Dis- 
charge, etc., of enlisted women to AGO Enlisted 
Branch; Discharge, etc., of officers to AGO Officers 
Branch. (1) ASF Adm Memo S-64, 14 Oct 43; (2) 
Drafts of same, Aug 43; (3) Memo, TAG for Dir Pers 
ASF, 5 Nov 43. SPWA 314.7 (l-7-43)(l) sec 4. 

11 (1) Memo, WAAC Hq for DCofS ASF, 17 May 
43. SPWA 353 E; (2) Memo, Dir Tng ASF for DCofS 
for SvCs ASF, 21 May 43, 1st Itid, 22 May, DCofS 
ASF, 2d Ind, 27 May, MPD. 3d Ind, 1 Jun, Dir 
WAAC. WAAC Training Centers were made Class II 
installations by ASF Memo S210-14-43, 10 Jun 43, 
under the control of CG ASF and the technical super- 
vision of the Director WAAC. ASF file, SPAP WAC 
(5-17-43). 

la (1) AGO Memo W635-1 1-43, 8 Jul 43; (2) 
Memo, WAC Hq for G-l, 1 7 Sep 43; (3) Memo, 
TAG for Dir Pers ASF, 7 Sep 43. SPWA 320.2 (7-5- 
43) sec 1. 



INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 



261 



grounds that ASF divisions would ordi- 
narily give the Director information about 
WAC matters of special importance with- 
out being directed to do so. 13 

The success of the several shifts in re- 
sponsibility was therefore variable depend- 
ing upon the degree of voluntary co-or- 
dination between the offices concerned. 
The Adjutant General's Office was highly 
successful in removing a tremendous load 
of routine operations from the Director's 
Office, such as the receiving of availability 
reports and the issuing of assignment 
orders. 

On the other hand, Military Training 
Division habitually took unilateral action 
in training matters, publishing training 
courses and circulars that had never been 
seen by the Director. Training center com- 
mandants complained of a perpetual con- 
flict between training directives and other 
portions of the WAC program, such as re- 
cruiting. In a few cases the transfer 
resulted in total obliteration of a phase of 
the WAC program; work on the WAC 
history was stopped by General Robinson 
of ASF Control Division, who relegated 
the previous excellent WAAC collection 
to the files, disapproved collection of fur- 
ther material, and asigned the former 
WAAC Historian, Lt. Virginia Smithson, 
to a clerk's job. 14 

Several divisions, although assuming re- 
sponsibility for part of the WAC program, 
did not accept assignment of a WAC of- 
ficer or other specialist to help perform it. 
The Morale Services Division, for ex- 
ample, took the all-important responsibil- 
ity for orienting soldier opinion, and its 
director, Maj. Gen. Frederick H. Osborn, 
after personal conference with Colonel 
Hobby, agreed to accept assignment of a 
WAC officer; but in spite of efforts of 



Colonel Hobby's staff to remind him, no 
such assignment was made during the six 
months in which the WAC remained in 
the ASF. Similarly Brig. Gen. Joseph W. 
Byron of Special Services Division in- 
formed the Director that he intended to 
accept assignment of a WAC officer, but 
no assignment was accepted during this 
period. 

Such reluctance appeared generally to 
be due to doubts concerning the propriety 
of employing a specialist for such a small 
group as the WAC, and to the belief that 
the regular staff could care for the addi- 
tional responsibilities. However, within a 
few months it was apparent that little 
action was being taken on WAC problems 
in offices that did not have a WAC special- 
ist. Her staff informed the Director, 
"There are certain operating divisions, 
ASF, which seem not to be fully aware 
that responsibility has fallen to them for 
matters concerning WAC personnel." 15 

The Director attempted to overcome 
such omissions by including, in her new 
office, a WAC liaison officer for each 
major ASF division. This system also did 
not work very well. Liaison officers noted 
that, even when a division was extremely 
co-operative in taking any action sug- 
gested by the Director's Office, it was in- 
appropriate for their responsibilities to en- 



13 Memo, Dir WAC for CG ASF, 5 Nov 43, sub: 
ASF Cir, and 1st Ind, 13 Nov 43. SPWA 314.7 (1-7- 
43] (1) sec 4. 

14 (1) Speech, Maj George Martin, Chief, Conll 
Div WAAC. Min, Stf Dirs Conf, Chicago, 15-17 Jun 
43, SPWA 337 (6-1-43). (2) Memo, Maj Anne 
Alinder for Exec WAC, 10 Sep 43. SPWA 314.7 (1- 
7— 43)( 1) sec 4. (3) Interv with.Capt Virginia Smith 



son, Hist Div, AAF Hq, Dec 45, (See Bibliographica 
Note.) 

'•' Memo, Well- Being Officer for Dir WAC, 20 Dec 
43, with atchd drafts and buck slips, SFWA-W, 



262 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



listed women to be constantly called to the 
divisions' attention by the Office of the 
Director, and also inefficient in view of the 
"complexity of the organization. . . . and 
the impracticability of one liaison officer 
from this office being aware of all the func- 
tions or activities of the many branches 
and sections of each division." The WAC 
liaison officer noted that, in order to get 
Wacs included in these divisions' activities, 
she was forced to undertake "action more 
in the nature of operations than ad- 
visory." 16 

In addition, such outside interference 
was not always popular. The Navy noted, 
concerning an identical situation, that so 
long as the WAVES liaison officer's assign- 
ment, or even her desk, was in the Di- 
rector's office, other divisions tended to 
regard her as "a sort of polite espionage 
service," and that the only workable sys- 
tem was the location of a specialist in the 
division office itself. 17 

Especial deterioration was noted in the 
handling of public relations, never well 
co-ordinated. WAAC Headquarters' small 
Office of Technical Information was trans- 
ferred to the ASF Office of Technical In- 
formation, and subsequently to the War 
Department Bureau of Public Relations, 
where material concerning Wacs was han- 
dled, with even less co-ordination than 
had prevailed before, by the respective as- 
sistant directors of the bureau for ASF, 
AGF, and AAF. In the Army Service 
Forces' opinion, the "overall WAC public 
relations job" would now have to be 
performed by the service commands. 18 
Although General Somervell took steps to 
call this problem to their attention, there 
resulted during this six months a series of 
unfortunate releases which did little to 
assist the current recruiting drive. in 

Even at best, considerable confusion 



prevailed during the period of transfer of 
operating functions, and there were un- 
avoidable lapses in continuity of opera- 
tion. Files of the various transferred offices 
were shipped off bodily to offices in which 
they could not later be located, and other 
documents were destroyed for lack of 
space to house them. Continual office 
moves, an old Pentagon custom, added to 
the commotion. After two moves and one 
consolidation in the preceding twelve 
months, the office moved again in Novem- 
ber of 1943 from the second floor of the 
Pentagon to the third; two months after 
this it was moved back to the second 
floor. 20 

General Impression of Director's Status 

There was general failure on the part 
of Army and WAC personnel in the field 
to understand the Director's new status, 
and total failure on the part of the public. 
Few could grasp the fact that she no longer 
had any command power over individual 
women; fewer still realized that she was no 
longer consulted about every WAC direc- 
tive nor informed of the policy in every 
matter. As a result, the Office of the Direc- 
tor constantly received many inappropri- 
ate requests, inquiries, and demands for 
corrective action. Service commands still 
telephoned the Director's Office with com- 
plaints, such as the failure of Army depots 
to distribute WAC Regulations on time. 
Others wrote her about matters under 
their own command, such as at what hour 
Wacs should go to bed and whether dating 

,fi Ibid. 

17 WAVES His:. 

15 Memo, CG ASF for DCofS for SvCs ASF, 18 
Dec 4-3. SPWA 014.1 3 E. 
1,J Sec fch. XXX ivl below. 

-° (1) Hq Memo, 23 Nov 43; (2) Memo, MDW to 
CG ASF. 14 Jan 44. SPWA 310.2 (10-5-42). 



INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 



263 



should be permitted in the women's unit 
dayrooms.-' 

Following the conversion to Army 
status, the Army Service Forces refused to 
let the Director's Office have any further 
reports on WAC clothing status, training, 
station lists, or rank; it approved reports 
only on WAC strength and recruiting re- 
turns. The Director's Office continued 
negotiations in an attempt to get more. 22 

After this time, the Director had no 
means of discovering the problems of field 
units except by such visits as her staff was 
able to make, or by Congressional or other 
complaints; hence her later knowledge of 
field conditions tended to be based on a 
sampling rather than on a complete com- 
pilation. She succeeded in having written 
into the forthcoming regulations a provi- 
sion, resembling that of certain British 
services, that any WAC commander might 
write directly to the Director on matters 
of women's well-being, provided that she 
routed her letter through the post com- 
mander. This provision proved virtually 
inoperative; the Director's Office noted at 
the end of the war that it had almost never 
been used, since a company commander 
obviously jeopardized her own local ad- 
vancement by using the privilege, and 
therefore ordinarily did so only in the 
gravest emergencies.-' 3 

First WAC Regulations 

Among all integration problems, the 
hottest debate concerned the matter of the 
special Army Regulations, if any, to be 
issued for the WAC. For almost a year, 
since the introduction of the WAC legis- 
lation, General Somervell's office and Di- 
rector Hobby's office had been at odds on 
this matter. 

The basic issue was the matter of mini- 



mum safeguards for women. Director 
Hobby maintained that this would require 
a directive stating that Army enlisted 
women would be assigned only to units 
commanded by a woman officer. The ASF 
disagreed, pronouncing any special regu- 
lations favoritism for women. Maj. Gen. 
Lorenzo D. Gasser, of the War Depart- 
ment Manpower Board, added that Army 
personnel officers would be hampered in 
exercising their prerogatives of transfer and 
assignment if they could assign enlisted 
women only to stations where a WAC 
officer was located. 21 

An ASF committee, appointed before 
the conversion to consider the matter, in- 
formed the Director that no changes in 
Army Regulations would be made, since 
"Experience has dictated that the effect of 
a regulation is often resented, especially if 
it seems to curtail power." - ;> General Dal- 
ton, ASF's Chief of Military Personnel, 
also informed the Director: "It is highly 
undesirable that policies and regulations 
governing the control of WAAC personnel 
be more restrictive than those governing 
officers and enlisted men." 2li Upon recon- 
sideration, the Army Service Forces de- 
cided that one basic Army Regulation for 



-' (1) Speech, Maj Mary-Agnes Brown, Min. Stf 
Dirs Conf. New York, 1-3 Dec 43. SPWA 337 (1 1- 
10-43). (2) Ltr, 9th SvC to WAC Hq, 17 Nov 43. 
SPWA 353.8. 

-- ( 1) Memo, Dir WAC for Col Conrad G. Follans- 
bec, MPD ASF, 26 Nov 43; 1st Ind, MPD to AGO, 
29 Nov 43. SPWA 201.7. (2) Memo, Miss Lies to 
Exec WAG, 15 Dec 43. Copy given author by Dr. 
Jessie P. Rice. 

- :! Remarks, Dir WAG, Conf of Overseas Theater 
G-l's, 15 Oct 46. WDWAC 337 A-S. 

" Memo, CofS ASF for Chiefs of Servs, 1 Mar 43, 
and 3 Inds. SPWA 333.1, now in Dir Pers ASF files. 

23 Memo, 2d O Mary Vann Racey for Dir WAAC, 
1 Mar 43. SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1. 

26 Memo, MPD ASF for Dir WAAC, 26 Apr 43. 
SPG AE 322.5 WAAC (4-26-43) G-l. in SPWA 
300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1. 



264 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



the WAC would be required: that under 
no circumstances would women command 

27 

men. 

Director Hobby replied that, if less than 
a company with its own WAC commander 
was used at any station, it was not eco- 
nomical to provide women's clothing 
stocks, hospital equipment, post exchange 
items, recreational programs, and other 
needs that differed from those of men. 
Where these were not provided, the 
women did not receive care equal to that 
normally provided by the Army for its 
men. The Director also asked for a written 
definition of her own new noncommand 
duties in the WAC, which should, she 
stated, be those of advising on women's 
well-being, "defined to mean conditions 
of employment suitable for women, which 
shall remain the primary concern of the 
Director WAC." 28 

The Director's view was several times 
upheld by the Chief of Staff, General 
Marshall. In the spring of 1943, over ASF 
nonconcurrence, he authorized publica- 
tion of the revised WAAC Regulations 
(1943), which contained the desired safe- 
guards." These governed the WAAC and 
WAC until late October 1943, when the 
General Staff was able to reconcile con- 
flicting viewpoints and produce a final 
version of the WAC Regulations. The cir- 
cular as published was drafted by G-1 
Division, over the Army Service Forces' 
objection, personally discussed with Colo- 
nel Hobby by General White, and revised 
to incorporate her suggestions. On 9 No- 
vember 1943 it was published as War De- 
partment Circular 289, the WAC's first 
important publication, which was to last, 
with amendments, for over a year, and to 
serve as a model for all later regulations. 

Covering only six pages, it pointed out 
which Army Regulations were applicable 



unchanged, and authorized certain excep- 
tions and special provisions. The required 
differences were: 30 

1 . WAC units would contain only women 
and be commanded by WAC officers, exactly 
as men's units were composed of and com- 
manded by men. 

2. Wacs would not be confined in the same 
building with men, except a hospital. 

3. WAC messes would not be combined 
with men's messes except with War Depart- 
ment approval. [General Dalton almost im- 
mediately repealed this restriction without 
informing the Director.] 

4. Wacs would not be used in "restaurants 
or cafeterias in service clubs, guest houses, of- 
ficers' clubs or messes." [Such assignments 
were ordinarily not authorized for any mili- 
tary personnel.] 

5. WAC officers would not be promoted to 
the grade of colonel. [By act of Congress.] 

6. Wacs would not command men unless 
specifically ordered to do so. [By act of Con- 
gress.] 

7. Wacs would not be employed as physi- 
cians or nurses. [By act of Congress, to avoid 
infringing on existing organizations.] 

8. WAC officers would be appointed only 
from officer candidate school graduates, and 
officer candidates would be selected only 
from women already in the Corps. 

9. Enlistment standards would differ from 
men's in the age and citizenship require- 
ments set by Congress, and in a different 
physical examination; venereal disease was 
also disqualifying, and women with depend- 
ent children were ineligible. 

10. Discharge was mandatory for minors 
[by act of Congress]; authority was included 
for discharge for pregnancy. 



Memo and Inds cite riTnT"?^ 
28 Min cit cd |n. 14(1). | 

» Ibid., incl ltrs, SvCs to Dir W AAC, M a v -Jun 43. 

30 (1) Gontl Div Rpt. Min cited |n. 14(T1 (2) Memo, 
Dir WAAC for Sp Serv Div, Chief of Chaplains, SG, 
CofFin, JAG, and Cond Div ASF, 1 1 May 43, SPWA 
300.3 (1-7-43) sec 1. (3) Memo, "MGW : ' (Maj Gen 
Miller G. White, G-1) for G-1 Enl Br, 31 Oct 43. 
SPWA 300.3 (1-7-43) sec II. (4) Memo, G-1 for 
TAG, 3 Nov 43. WDGAP 300.3 WAC, in CofS 291.9. 
(Rescinds Cir 226.) 



INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 



265 



In addition, Director Hobby succeeded 
in getting spelled out certain other re- 
quirements which were identical with re- 
quirements for men, but which were still 
frequently violated because of the Corps' 
early ambiguous status: Wacs were to fill 
only military jobs, could not replace civil- 
ians, would not be assigned as permanent 
kitchen police, and were eligible for mem- 
bership on courts and boards. It was re- 
quired that courts and boards hearing 
WAC enlisted women include at least one 
WAC officer, in line with the general prac- 
tice of including members of an enlisted 
man's arm or service. It was also required 
that commanders using WAC troops em- 
ploy WAC staff directors, part of whose 
duties was "continuous inspection." 

Rights and Benefits of the WA C 

None of the circulars published made 
clear the differences between the rights 
and benefits of enlisted women and those 
of enlisted men. The Comptroller General 
decisions, requested in July, began to ar- 
rive in late September and defined some 
of these. On the question "May Wacs get 
allowances for dependents?" the Comp- 
troller General ruled that it was clearly 
the intent of Congress to grant such allow- 
ances, since an amendment to forbid de- 
pendency allowances had been defeated. 
This, however, resulted in "material dis- 
crimination" against Waves and nurses, 
for whom the Comptroller had rendered 
an opposite opinion. The Comptroller 
decided that Wacs could not get allow- 
ances for husbands but could for parents 
and children in certain cases. 31 

The Comptroller General also reversed 
a decision of the Veterans' Administration 
that husbands were not eligible to receive 
the death gratuity, and made other re- 



lated decisions. In addition, other deci- 
sions were made by the Army's Judge 
Advocate General and the General Staff. 
Many of these concerned the benefits 
toward which WAAC service might be 
counted, which were in constant question 
by every Army station. Wherever possible 
the General Staff attempted to give credit 
for WAAC service: it was decided to count 
it for time-in-grade for promotion pur- 
poses, for relative rank within grades, 
toward accrued leave, and toward over- 
seas theater ribbons. As for the Good Con- 
duct Medal, The Adjutant General first 
ruled that WAAC service did not count 
toward the time required to earn it, but 
was overruled by the General Staff. For 
other questions the answer had legally to 
be negative, since WAAC service had not 
been actually military service, and could 
not be counted for longevity pay or other 
such financial benefits. 3 " 

Colonel Hobby requested that these de- 
cisions be compiled in a new circular en- 
titled Rights and Benefits of the WAC, for 
ready reference by puzzled field stations. 
The War Department decided against 
publishing such a compilation on the 
grounds that this would be a special pub- 
lication for women and that it would be 
better to insert each reference in appro- 
priate Army Regulations as they were re- 
vised from time to time. The Army Air 
Forces nevertheless obtained a copy of the 
rejected circular, mimeographed it, and 



31 Memo, Gen Styer (CofS, ASF) to Dir Fiscal Div, 
2 1 Sep 43; Decision B-36497, Gomptr Gen to SW, 
24 Sep 4 3. SPEX in SPWA 314.7 (l_7-43)(l) sec 2. 



See Gh. XII 



Also (1) Decision B-35441, Comptr 
Gen to iW, 4 Aug 43. SPWA 242.2 (6-10-43). (2) 
Memo, JAG for Dir WAC, 3 Jan 44. SPJGA 1943/ 
19509. Published in WD Cir 24, 1944. SPWA 314.7 
(l-7-43)(l) sec 2. (3) Ltr, 3589th SU, Richmond, Ky., 
to TAG, 4 Oct 43. and 1st Ind from TAG, SPWA 
200.6. (4) Memo, Col Hobby for G-l, 29 Dec 43; 
atchd to WD Cir 36, 28 Jan 44. SPWA 200.6. 



266 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



sent it informally to AAF staff directors 
for their assistance in locating answers 
quickly. Many of these decisions never 
reached other field authorities; as late as 
1946 War Department separation centers 
were discovered refusing to credit WAAC 
service for various benefits toward which 
it was creditable. 33 



Army Advisers Depart 

The job of advising on Corps well-being 
under its new regulations now fell to an 
Office of the Director consisting of twenty 
officers, all women. The preliminary re- 
duction, in November, had left the office 
with twenty-five officers, including Colo- 
nel Catron as executive and General 
Faith as head of the Field Survey Branch, 
but in December Colonel Hobby recom- 
mended that the office be still further 
reduced. 34 For service with the WAAC, 
General Somervell secured for General 
Faith the award of the Distinguished Serv- 
ice Medal, saying "To him, in large 
measure, belonged the responsibility of 
success in the whole program of women's 
participation in service with the Armed 
Forces." 35 To replace the departing offi- 
cers Colonel Hobby gave key office posi- 
tions to women brought in from staff 
directorships in the field. Major Rice left 
the recruiting office to become deputy di- 
rector; Maj. Mary-Agnes Brown, formerly 
of the Eighth Service Command, was 
made executive officer. In civil life Major 
Brown had been an attorney for the Vet- 
erans' Administration and past president 
of the Women's Bar Association of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia. Maj. Katherine R. 
Goodwin of the First Service Command 
became the personnel officer. Major Good- 
win's civilian experience had been as head 



of business administration in the Hartford, 
Connecticut, public schools. 

Field Needs After Integration 

Army commanders simultaneously took 
over the task of operating the Corps under 
Army Regulations. One WAC authority 
noted: 

Generals, lieutenants, and sergeants who 
had long been privately certain that this 
business of utilizing women as soldiers would 
be perfectly simple, if the War Department 
would just let them handle it, now had a 
chance to prove their point. They went into 
action with all shades and degrees of con- 
cepts, from that which held that all women, 
in or out of uniform, were ladies who should 
be shielded from the rough ways of the world, 
to that which held that all soldiers were sol- 
diers and should be treated alike, whether or 
not they were women. . . . Even for the 
many men who did not go to either of these 
extremes . . . women as soldiers were some- 
thing new and different and required consid- 
erable getting used to. J(i 

In spite of the inestimable advantages 
of Army status, field commanders faced 
certain disadvantages in attempting to 
begin operations under men's regulations, 
which were still largely unmodified. At 
Camp Gordon, Georgia, inspectors found 
that a WAC unit was getting all of men's 
T/BA equipment, including fifteen water 
tanks, spare gas tanks, a litter for carrying 
the wounded from the battlefield, and 
other property which it was unable to 
store in the space provided. Elsewhere just 



" Memo, Dir WAC for TAG, 7 Oct 43; Memo, 
G-l for CGASF, 4 Dec 43, WDGAP 243; SPWA 
314.7 (1-7-43(1) sec 2. The informal AAF publica- 
tion is in Policy Book, property of author. 

34 Memo, Dir WAC for CG ASF, 29 Dec 43. SPWA 
320.2 E. 

11 Memo. Gen Somervell for WD Decorations Bd, 
15 Jan 44. Personnel Abstracts, WAC files, OCMH. 
36 AAF WAC Hist, pp. 17-20. 



INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY 



267 



the opposite idea prevailed, and because 
WAG units were gradeless, stations refused 
to issue them guidons, unit vehicles, or 
other standard equipment. 

Army records and reports were now 
used for women and had to be modified in 
many cases. Officer candidates already 
processed and at the head of the waiting 
list had to be reprocessed under Army 
Regulations and take the test used for 
men, as well as appear before Army 
boards which sometimes differed consid- 
erably in judgment from the previous all- 
Waac boards. Commands were embar- 
rassed when they tried women by court- 
martial and sentenced them to confine- 
ment without first providing a place of 
confinement. Stations and training centers 
that had previously weeded out prostitutes 
and other undesirables found that Army 
Regulations gave them no authority to 
discharge military personnel for prostitu- 
tion. 37 

A major, if temporary, complaint was 
that no uniformity of personnel action was 
thenceforth possible for the "Corps" — now 
a corps in name only. Promotion was in 
the Army channel, and therefore could 
not be consistent from one command to 
another; junior officers were promoted be- 
fore senior, women in less important jobs 
before those in more responsible, accord- 
ing to varying command and station pol- 
icies and opportunities. Discipline was also 
a command matter, and major offenders 
went unpunished in some commands 
while minor matters in others were dealt 
with severely. Policies on dress, leaves, re- 
strictions, and such matters varied. Train- 
ing of various sorts, including physical 
training, was required by some stations 
and not by others. 

Similarly, Corps-wide personnel pro- 
grams were made impossible, including 



rotation of training center officers to the 
field, relief of recruiters, or systematic ad- 
vancement of company officers. The diffi- 
culty was intensified in that, while most 
Army commands had thousands of male 
personnel and could effect normal rotation 
among them, the average command had 
only a handful of WAC units and perhaps 
one staff job of field grade. 

Another new difficulty was the lack of 
information. At Fort Moultrie inspectors 
noted, "Complaint was made that few 
notices of any nature were reaching the 
detachment from Headquarters Fourth 
Service Command"; at Camp Gordon, 
"The WAC Commanding Officer felt a 
need for more information about her job." 
It would obviously hereafter be more diffi- 
cult to get WAC matters down to com- 
pany level through the more complicated 
Army echelons than through the shorter 
WAAC channels. 

To solve such new problems, there was 
noted a general tendency for the field to 
request directives from Washington to 
solve field problems and set Corps-wide 
policies. At a staff directors' meeting in 
December 1943, representatives asked the 
Director for a standard operating proce- 
dure to secure uniform punishments for 
women in various commands, adequate 
physical training, proper officers' quarters, 
and other items. Violations of uniform 
regulations by female personnel were in 
particular looked upon as a matter that 
some WAC authority should correct. 
Many asked to be allowed to assign worth- 
less personnel to some sort of central WAC 

37 (1) Memo, WAC HqJor MPD ASF, 15 Sep 43, 
with atchd file. SPWA 315 (1943,) (2) WD Cir 240, 
4 Oct 43, sec IV. (3) Memo, Dir WAC for G-l, 1 Jan 
44. SPWA 424.2, 1942. (4) Folder Rpts of Stf Visits, 
esp rpts 24-29 Nov 1943. WAC Ping Serv files. (5) 
Ltr, WAC Stf Dir AAF WFTC to Exec WAC, 20 Nov 
43. SPWA 320.2. (6) Min cited |n. 21 (lT] 



268 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



pool for disposition, as it proved extremely 
difficult to get male personnel to discipline 
and reclassify women. The difficulty of 
lack of uniformity was especially acute at 
places like Fort Riley, which had three 
sets of regulations for the three WAC units 
assigned respectively to the cavalry school, 
the replacement training center, and the 
post headquarters. 38 

Such difficulties, while very real, pre- 
sented a peculiar problem in view of Colo- 
nel Hobby's determination to integrate 
the WAC in the Army. She repeatedly 
rejected any proposal which, she said, 
"tends to give the impression that the 
WAC is something apart from the 
Army." 39 Thus, while she marked for cor- 
rection certain legitimate needs for new 
policies or amplified regulations, in gen- 
eral she replied to such requests that they 
were matters of command. The lack of 
uniformity of action among Army com- 
mands, although especially conspicuous 
among the WAC minority, was not a 
WAC problem but an Army one, con- 
cerning men as well as women, and inher- 
ent in the system of command responsi- 
bility. 

Close of 1943 

At the end of 1943, Wacs at a staff direc- 
tors' conference pointed with pride to the 
WAC's progress since the previous Decem- 
ber. Then, ten staff directors had attended 
the meeting; in 1943, fifty-three were pres- 
ent. Then the WAAC had boasted only 
two post headquarters companies plus the 
Aircraft Warning Service in the field; now 



it had more than 260 companies. More 
Wacs were presently in each of two foreign 
theaters than had a year before been in 
the whole field. Then the headquarters 
and training centers had been run chiefly 
by men; now, they were run chiefly by 
women. Then, the training center had 
been the WAC world; now, it had receded 
to relative insignificance. Then, only serv- 
ice commands had employed Wacs; now 
all commands did. Wacs had been taken 
into the Army and had generally done 
away with separate grades, T/O's, and 
channels. 40 

The first of January 1944 found the 
WAC with a reported membership of 
62,859 as against 20,943 a year before. 
Losses of the conversion period had almost 
been regained, several months before this 
had been believed possible. "We are very 
much encouraged," Colonel Hobby said. 
The Director added: 

It is quite a consolation and encourage- 
ment to compare the difference in the ques- 
tions and problems that arose at this Staff 
Conference with the ones that arose about a 
year ago and the ones that arose six months 
ago — partially a tribute to your indoctrina- 
tion and understanding, and partially a tri- 
bute to the Army for the very fine and splen- 
did assistance it has given the WAC, now one 
of its components. 41 



38 MLn cited ln, 21(171 

as Memo, Dir WAC for CG ASF, 27 Oct 44, sub: 
Dr. Durfee's Tng MS on Leadership. WDWAC 353. 

40 Ope ning spee ch by Air WAC Off, Maj Bandel. 
Min cited In". 21(1)1 

41 (1) WDBFR Press Release, 6 Jan 44. WAC Plan- 
ning files. Strength reported at time. (2) Rpt, Ma- 
chine Recs Div, AGO, 4 Mar 44. WDWAC 320.2 
sec 46. For adjusted total of 6 1.355 for WAC strength 
in January 1944, see |Table~T Appendix A. 



CHAPTER XV 



Removal of Director's Office 
to G-l Division 



There remained one step to be taken in 
the evolution of the WAG organization. 
This was the removal of the Office of the 
Director from the Army Service Forces to 
the General Staff level. During January 
and February of 1944, a number of con- 
tributing causes led directly to this move, 
the last in the series by which the Corps 
was fully integrated into the normal com- 
mand channels of the Army. 

There had for some time been general 
agreement within the War Department 
that the past two years' method of han- 
dling Corps' problems was unsatisfactory, 
and that some sort of remedial action was 
called for, with more high-level attention 
to its problems than the Corps had yet 
received. A prominent civilian special as- 
sistant, who was called upon by the Army 
Service Forces to diagnose the situation 
during the conversion crisis, bluntly in- 
formed it that its headquarters had in fact 
killed the WAAC with its left hand while 
publicly sponsoring it with its right. He 
wrote: 

The situation with respect to the WAC is 
such that I believe immediate action is neces- 
sary, and that such action must be of rather 
far-reaching nature. Does the Army really 
want the WAC to succeed? I am not at all 
convinced that the answer to this question is 
"yes." . . . I have seen no real evidence of 
'such a desire. . . . Are civilians really con- 



vinced that the WAC is an important organ- 
ization? Civilians will be convinced of this 
only when the Army is convinced of it. . . . 
It should not be necessary to review argu- 
ments why the WAC must succeed. The 
Army started this program, and it is obvi- 
ously a good idea to be associated with suc- 
cessful programs. 1 

A similar view had been voiced by Colo- 
nel Catron, after ten months of assignment 
to WAAC Headquarters. Later, "acting 
on my own initiative, but with the knowl- 
edge of Director Hobby," he had bypassed 
his former associates in the Army Service 
Forces to inform the General Staff directly, 
"In my opinion, the situation calls for . . . 
the military authorities to recognize an 
obligation to the WAAC, to the Army, 
and to the women of the country, to help 
make the WAC a go." 2 

G-3 Recommendation 

At the time of the conversion, the 
Deputy Chief of Staff, General McNarney, 
therefore directed the General Staff to 
recommend a new location for the Direc- 
tor's Office. After analysis, G-3 Division 

1 Memo, "W.C.M." (Wilbur C. Munnecke, Vice 
Pres. of Univ. of Chicago, and wartime sp asst, ASF) 
for Gen Dalton, Dir Mil Pers ASF, 10 Aug 43. SPAP 
341 WAAC (2-26-43). 

2 Memo, Exec WAAC for G-l, 20 Jul 43. SPWA 
314.7 sec 3. 



270 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



reported that the location in the Army 
Service Forces was not suitable. Although 
the Director WAC was a special adviser to 
the Chief of Staff, and was responsible for 
advice concerning Air, Ground, and Serv- 
ice Forces, she was currently obliged to 
submit all papers to or through the Army 
Service Forces. The G-3 planners noted: 
"This form of organization is not entirely 
satisfactory, as the scope of WAC matters 
is Army-wide and determination of all 
basic policies should properly be made at 
the War Department level." 3 

G-3 Division therefore recommended 
that the office be placed under G-l Divi- 
sion of the General Staff, comparable in 
place to the Military Intelligence Division 
under G-2, or else, and preferably, be 
made an independent Special Staff divi- 
sion, like Civil Affairs Division. The Spe- 
cial Staff location, although it was never 
to be adopted, was always the one recom- 
mended by organizational experts. G-3 
Division pointed out that the Director's 
responsibilities were not limited to G-l 
matters and that the Special Staff location 
"will expedite direct consultation with 
appropriate divisions of the General 
Staff." 4 

Director Hobby concurred in either 
move, but General Somervell noncon- 
curred and presented a counterplan that 
would keep the Office of the Director 
under his jurisdiction. He proposed that it 
be attached to his own office, and not be 
placed under any subordinate office such 
as that of General Grunert or of General 
Dalton. He agreed also that the Director 
would be allowed to consult directly with 
Air and Ground Forces on matters that 
did not concern the Service Forces. 5 

General Somervell's plan prevailed; at 
the time of the conversion, General Mc- 
Narney verbally advised Colonel Hobby 



to try the plan for several months and see 
if it would work. As a matter of fact, it was 
to be exactly six months before all con- 
cerned were convinced that the plan would 
not work. 

Handicaps on ASF Level 

During the early weeks of 1944, General 
Marshall called to his office General 
White and other officers to express his dis- 
satisfaction with the situation, particularly 
as it affected recruiting. 

Among issues leading toward a move 
from the ASF level, the major one was 
that of supply. In the midst of debate over 
the Austin- Wadsworth bill, members of 
Congress began publicly to criticize the 
WAC uniform. Criticism from Army sta- 
tions, particularly air bases, was equally 
severe. Very little honest defense against 
the criticisms was possible. In spite of the 
easing of the supply problem, which had 
presumably resulted from the collapse of 
expansion plans eight months before, the 
situation remained approximately where 
it had been at that time. 

Severe shortages still existed on field 
stations; recruits in training centers still 
did not receive complete clothing issue, 
and still suffered high sick rates; and the 
appearance of the uniform had not been 
improved in any respect. Since the Army 
Service Forces had now been responsible 
for the WAC uniform for almost two years, 
it did not appear that either inexperience 
or rapid build-up could any longer be 
offered in explanation. However, eight 
separate proposals for improving the situa- 
tion — made by the Army Air Forces, by 

3 Memo. G-3 for DCofS, 1 7 Aug 43. WDGCT 322 
WAC (8-17-43), in CofS 291.9. 
1 Ibid. 

5 See pencil notation, Ibid. 



REMOVAL OF DIRECTOR'S OFFICE TO G-l DIVISION 



271 



The Quartermaster General, and by the 
Director — were all disapproved by Re- 
quirements Division, ASF, by the end of 
February of 1944, without any workable 
counterproposals. The last two proposals 
were addressed to the General Staff by 
authority of Circular 289, as a matter of 
the well-being of women in all major 
commands, but were disapproved by the 
Army Service Forces and turned back 
without reaching the General Staff. 6 

In the matter of public relations, a rapid 
deterioration had been noted after the 
Army Service Forces took over operating 
duties at the conversion. None of the Di- 
rector's suggestions made at the time of 
the slander campaign were accepted, and 
in the first weeks of 1944, a series of pub- 
licity releases were so poor as to come to 
the attention of the Chief of Staff himself. 
General Marshall in January sent a stiff 
note to the Bureau of Public Relations: "It 
seems to me that very poor use is made of 
the best publicity possibilities in the WAC 
organization. . . . Who is handling this 
business?" 7 

As for soldier opinion, the Director had 
been unable, as late as February 1944, to 
secure the assignment of specialists to 
either ASF Morale Services or Special 
Services Divisions, to work on the im- 
provement of soldier opinion or WAC 
morale. 

Similarly, in November of 1943 General 
Marshall had directed that, in order to 
improve the supply and health situation 
at Fort Oglethorpe, a ranking WAC offi- 
cer be made commandant. Although the 
Director twice reminded General Somer- 
vell's office of this directive, no action had 
been taken by late February. 8 

Also in November, General Marshall 
directed that some WAC officers now be 
made lieutenant colonels, to fill position 



vacancies that had existed for eighteen 
months. However, Air Forces proposals to 
this effect were subsequently refused by 
the Army Service Forces upon General 
Somervell's personal written advice. In a 
seperate study, General Somervell instead 
recommended giving direct commissions 
in this rank to socially prominent civilian 
women. It was this action that led the As- 
sistant Chief of Air Staff to appear per- 
sonally in the War Department seeking 
the removal of the Director's Office from 
General Somervell's jurisdiction. 9 

A particular cause of interservice fric- 
tion was the handling of papers on WAC 
matters, which received Army Service 
Forces comment in cases that, had they 
involved men, would not have been han- 
dled by the ASF at all. For a time it had 
been hoped that the objections of the Air 
and Ground Forces, and of overseas the- 
aters, could be met by the new status of 
the Director's Office as a part of General 
Somervell's own office, with authorization 
for direct communication with the Air and 
Ground Forces and the General Staff on 
matters that did not concern the Service 
Forces. Unfortunately, it soon developed 
that in actual operating practice there was 
little difference in the office's former posi- 
tion, since it became General Somervell's 
custom to route all outgoing WAC papers 
through the office's former superior, Gen- 

6 Sce lCh. XXVI.I for details. 

7 Memo, "G.C.M." for WAC Recruiting Section, 
WDBPR (nonexistent section), 26 Jan +4. OCS 324.5 
WAC. 

5 Memo, Dir WAC for DCofS ASF for SvCs, 26 Feb 
44, with pencil notations. SPWA 210.31 (2-2-44). 

" Entire discussion from: (1) Memo, Dir WAC for 
G-l, 27 Nov 43. SPWA 210.2, in SPAP 210.2 WAC. 
(2) Memo cited n. 8. (3) Entire file on controversy is 
also in CofS 324.5 WAC, and in SPWA 210.2 WAC 
Promotions, 1943. (4) Ltr, TAG to AAE, 18 Nov 43. 
210.2 WAC (1 1-16-43) PR-W-WDGAP in SPWA 
210.2. 



272 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



eral Dalton, as well as through other ASF 
divisions. Disapprovals of policy recom- 
mendations by General Dalton or by Re- 
quirements Division, ASF, excited increas- 
ingly unfavorable comment from other 
commands in matters which concerned 
them solely, or would not normally have 
received Army Service Forces' comment. 10 

Move to General Staff Authorized 

In February of 1944, as a result of these 
complaints, Director Hobby went per- 
sonally to General Somervell to ask clari- 
fication of her office's status. He asked her 
to present the problem in writing, which 
she did, attaching as corpus delicti some 
three defunct policy papers which she had 
addressed, supposedly directly, to the 
General Staff, all of which had been dis- 
approved upon General Dalton's recom- 
mendation. All three concerned policies 
that were Army-wide, and one was solely 
an Air Forces proposal. 11 

Upon receipt of the Director's protest, 
General Somervell immediately recom- 
mended in writing to General Marshall 
that the Office of the Director be moved 
from his jurisdiction to that of the General 
Staff. General Somervell stated, "The 
office of the Director WAC is concerned 
primarily with matters affecting policy for 
the WAC which are applicable on an 
Army-wide basis in three major com- 
mands." 12 When later acquainted with 
his action, Colonel Hobby stated that, if 
allowed to comment, she would have 
expressed ready concurrence. 13 

As a result, General Marshall called 
Director Hobby in for a conference and 
directed that the Office of the Director be 
moved to G-l Division, War Department 
General Staff, effective 1 March 1944. 14 
Because of the small size of G-l Division, 



the Director's Office again had to be re- 
duced in size, this time to the Director and 
four — later only two — other officers, in- 
cluding Major Rice as Deputy. 

The Meek Report 

The move was still in process, with office 
furniture not yet installed, when General 
Somervell's office received a lengthy writ- 
ten report, which it forwarded to General 
Marshall. The report was in the nature of 
a sweeping criticism of the conduct of the 
WAC program to date, alleging that Di- 
rector Hobby and her advertising advisers 
had overlooked many obvious means of 
improving recruitment, had failed to im- 
prove the WAC uniform, and had allowed 
the WAC to fall far below the WAVES in 
public esteem. This study came to be 
called the Meek Report after its author, 
Mr. Samuel W. Meek, a member of the 
advertising agency of J. Walter Thompson, 
a competitor of the firm that handled offi- 
cial WAC advertising, Young & Rubi- 
cam. 15 

The Meek Report alleged, among other 
things, that the public was not aware of 
the urgency of the Army's need for Wacs; 

10 Specific examples in following text. 

11 Memo, Dir WAC for GG ASF, 5 Feb 44, sub: 
Functions of Dir WAC, with atchd papers. SPWA 
314.7, Hobby files. 

12 (1) Memo, CG ASF for CofS, 9 Feb 44. Styer 
Files, Drawer 2197, DRB AGO. (2) Incl to Memo, 
Dir WAC for CofS, 21 Mar 44, sub: Comment on 
Public Opinion Concerning WAC, Tabs A to J atchd. 
WDGAP 341 (1944). (3) Min, Gen Council, 21 and 
28 Feb 44. 

13 According to statement of Deputy Director to 
author. 

" Memo, G-l for CofS, 14 Feb 44. Approved by 
CofS, 19 Feb 44. WDGAP 320 WAC, in CofS 324.5. 

15 Manila Folder with 45 pages of surveys and sta- 
tistics with atchd note, "HJK" to Gen Somervell, 21 
Mar 44, and pencil notation: "Not to be use [sic] 
without my personal OK. BS." Somervell Files, Hq 
ASF, A46-257, DRB AGO. 



REMOVAL OF DIRECTOR'S OFFICE TO G-l DIVISION 



273 



that the WAC did not have the public 
standing of the WAVES; that three out of 
four women said they would choose the 
WAVES in preference to the WAC; that 
the public thought Waves got better treat- 
ment, more suitable jobs, more attractive 
uniforms; and that the WAVES had com- 
missioned more outstanding women edu- 
cators, whereas the WAC had not offered 
direct commissions to prominent women. 
Mr. Meek recommended that publicity 
tie-ins with high-ranking officers be used, 
that more prominent women be directly 
commissioned, and that society news pages 
then publicize the backgrounds of these 
new WAC leaders. 

General Marshall called Director 
Hobby to his office on 15 March 1944 
and, over Mr. Meek's objections, handed 
her the surveys and directed her to study 
these charges and prepare recommenda- 
tions. This she did, first in a preliminary 
report and then in a confidential staff 
study which, because of its outcome, was 
to rank as perhaps the most important 
WAC policy paper of the Corps' career. 16 

The charges in the Meek Report proved, 
in themselves, unfounded and easy to 
counter. The only new survey of "public" 
opinion for which it contained documented 
statistics proved to consist chiefly of inter- 
views with 111 college girls, 94 of them 
from Vassar, and with several prominent 
women, including women's magazine edi- 
tors. 17 By contrast, the Young & Rubicam 
campaign had been based on a confiden- 
tial Gallup survey of a scientifically chosen 
national sample of 1431 eligible women 
and 1415 parents of eligibles. 

The two surveys often differed. Meek 
stated that the public was unaware of the 
urgency of the Army's need for Wacs; 
Gallup found that a record 85 percent 
said they were aware of it, and when 



asked "Which women's service is in the 
greatest need of more women?" 58 per- 
cent said the WAC, only 14 percent the 
WAVES. The WAC advertising under 
Young & Rubicam thus appeared to have 
been more effective than was alleged. 
Meek stated that the public liked the 
WAVES better than the WAC, and that 
66 percent of eligible women said they 
would choose the WAVES as against 20 
percent the WAC; Gallup's non- Vassar 
eligibles answered: War work — 51 per- 
cent, WAC — 12 percent, WAVES— 10 
percent. The only statement which no one 
disputed was that about the uniform, for 
Gallup had always reported that only a 
few women preferred the WAC uniform. 

Director Hobby was also able to prove 
that the WAC had, some months before, 
taken every action recommended by Mr. 
Meek except direct commissions and 
short-term enlistments: it had used pub- 
licity from every prominent person named, 
offered station assignment, used society 
pages, publicized overseas assignment as 
far as surveys showed desirable, obtained 
two Gallup and two scientific Army opin- 
ion surveys, mailed literature to parents, 
and so on. None of these steps had ended 
the Corps' problems or come near its basic 
difficulties. 



1,1 (1) Preliminary Rpt, Dir WAC for CofS, 16 Mar 
44, sub: WAG Rxtg. WDWAC 341, in CofS 324.5 
WAC. (2) Memo cite d n. 12(2)1 

17 Following sources were listed in Meek Report: 

(1) 20 interviews with prominent persons, including 
ranking officers in the WAVES and Women Marines. 

(2) Unidentified surveys made by American Institute 
of Public Opinion and Fortune Magazine, Feb-Oct 
43; statistics, dates, and scope not given. (3) Some 
1,208 persons (47 3 young women, 37 7 young men, 
358 parents) "interviewed in a national survey" in 
November 1943; surveying agency or method of selec- 
tion not given. (4) Questionnaire to 240 staff members 
of McCalls, Time, and Reader's Digest and "advertising 
personnel." (5) "College Survey" of 94 students of 
Vassar and 17 from Sarah Lawrence. 



274 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



In countering the various charges, it 
proved easily possible to discuss those of 
the Director's previous recommendations 
that the Army Service Forces had disap- 
proved. The Director, perceiving this 
opening, at once drove straight through 
with two memoranda and ten appen- 
dixes. 18 These consisted of important parts 
of her own program, previously suppressed 
by the Army Service Forces, for improv- 
ing the WAC's situation. This was the first 
opportunity to bring most of these pro- 
posals to the attention of the Chief of Staff. 

When the Chief of Staffs final verdict 
was rendered, more of the Director's pro- 
posals concerning major issues had been 
approved in two weeks than had previ- 
ously been done in the past two years in 
the Army Service Forces. The proposals 
were concerned chiefly with soldier atti- 
tude, public relations, and the uniform. 

Corrective Action by the Chief of Staff 

The first two issues, soldier opinion and 
public attitude, Colonel Hobby unhesi- 
tatingly named as the basic difficulty of 
the WAC program. Dismissing all lesser 
theories, which attributed recruiting diffi- 
culties to ignorance, WAVES prestige, the 
uniform, the failure to grant direct com- 
missions, poor jobs, the desire for shorter 
enlistments, and other petty causes, she 
said flatly, "The two greatest deterrents to 
WAC recruiting are the attitude of soldiers 
toward women in the military service and 
the apathy of unmarried non-working 

53 1 <"l 

women. • 

General Marshall saw for the first time 
some of the slander campaign material, 
including literature which soldiers had 
mimeographed and circulated to almost 
every Army installation at home and 
abroad. 20 He saw a sample of the many 



letters, with which the WAC files were 
now bulging, from Wacs and eligible 
women. 21 He also saw cartoons from sol- 
dier publications all over the nation. 22 The 
most unexpected exhibits were certain 
anti-WAC statements made by high- 
ranking Army officers, all except one of 
whom were combat officers without ex- 
perience in WAC employment. These 
Colonel Hobby revealed by name only 
after being twice expressly commanded to 
do so. 23 One general remarked, in a 
national magazine, "Fortunately I've no 
experience with that particular species 
[Wacs] and what's more I don't want any 
of them around here." 24 The Director 
commented, "The attitude of the officers 
and enlisted men in the field will never 
change to the degree desired as long as key 
personnel, whose expressions can be as- 
sumed to reflect the War Department 
attitude, make statements such as these." 25 
To remedy the Army attitude, Colonel 
Hobby proposed a campaign of re-educa- 
tion similar to that which General Bowley 
had proposed twenty years before. She 
asked that the Army attempt to change 
the soldiers' attitude by including material 
on the Corps' usefulness in the Army 
orientation course, by which other soldier 
attitudes were successfully influenced. She 
asked that available films on the WAC be 
shown in this course, and a new film 



lfi Memo ciled |n, Each Tab was a separate 

signed memorandum so that recommendations could 
be acted upon separate ly. 

19 Rpt cited |n. 16(1)1 

20 Memo cited |n. 12(2)| Exhibit I: "Characteristics, 
functioning, care, and preservation of the WAC, M-l 
(model 1942-43)." 

21 Ibid., Tab D. 
« Ihid, 

21 Ibid., Tab C. 

24 Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton in Liberty, October 
9. 1943. 
Ibid. 



REMOVAL OF DIRECTOR'S OFFICE TO G-l DIVISION 



275 



made, specifically designed to reach the 
soldier. She asked that a Wac officer be 
assigned to Morale Services, ASF, to di- 
rect the distribution and clearance of 
WAC news and cartoons to camp news- 
papers; also, that an enlisted woman be 
assigned to the staff of Tank magazine, pre- 
viously unfavorable editorially. She asked 
that courses on the organization of the 
Army mention the WAC. And particu- 
larly, she asked that general officers clear 
with the Bureau of Public Relations be- 
fore making public statements concerning 
the WAC. 

General Marshall very soon approved 
much of this program. General Somervell 
now concurred in the orientation course 
material, and in the assignment to Morale 
Services and Special Services Divisions of 
a WAC officer and an enlisted woman. He 
protested that to require general officers to 
clear their remarks on the WAC was too 
drastic. He suggested instead that General 
Marshall write a letter to general officers 
discussing the problem, similar to the 
Marine Corps Commandant's letter sent 
out some seven months earlier concerning 
the treatment of Women Marines. 28 This 
alternative was acceptable to General 
Marshall, who immediately wrote not 
only to all generals but to all Army com- 
manding officers, pointing out that the 
Army was about to launch another drive 
for Wacs to meet "imperative" needs, and 
that he expected to have the drive sup- 
ported. He added: 

The Women's Army Corps is now an in- 
tegral part of the Army and a highly essential 
part of our war effort. . . . However, re- 
ports indicate that there are local command- 
ers who have failed to provide the necessary 
leadership and have in fact in some instance 
made evident their disapproval of the 
Women's Army Corps. The attitude of the 
men has quickly reflected the leadership of 



their commanders, as always. 

All commanders in the military establish- 
ment are charged with the duty of seeing that 
the dignity and importance of the work 
which women are performing are recognized 
and that the policy of the War Department 
is supported by strong affirmative action. 27 

In the matter of the uniform, Colonel 
Hobby presented General Marshall with 
a list of her previous recommendations to 
the Army Service Forces, from August of 
1942 to date. It appeared that General 
Somervell had not been aware until after 
the Meek Report was forwarded to Gen- 
eral Marshall that the condition of the 
WAC uniform resulted from disapproval 
of the Director's proposals by various 
echelons of his own command. Colonel 
Hobby informed General Marshall that 
the Service Forces had already begun re- 
studying some of her requests by direction 
of its commanding general. 28 General 
Marshall within a few weeks approved 
eight separate policy recommendations 
made by the Director and The Quarter- 
master General, all previously rejected by 
the Army Service Forces. These were 
shortly to work a considerable change in 



26 (1) Memo, CG ASF for CofS. SPAP 324.5 (3-29- 
44) ASF. (2) Ltr, Comdt USMC to all COs of posts 
and stations, 14 Aug 43, sub: Responsibility for Be- 
havior of Men Toward Women of MCWR. ''Infor- 
mation reaching this Headquarters indicates that in 
some posts and stations officers and men of the Ma- 
rine Corps treat members of the Women's Reserve 
with disrespect. ... In some cases, coarse or even 
obscene remarks are being made without restraint by 
male Marines in post exchanges, moving picture 
houses, and other places in the hearing of members of 
the Women's Reserve. . . . This conduct . . . indi- 
cates a laxity in discipline which will not be tolerated. 
Commanding officers will be held responsible to this 
Headquarters. . . ." [Signed] T. Holcomb. 

27 Printed Memo, CofS to all Hq divisions, overseas 
commanders, AGF down to tactical units, AAF, ASF, 
and Defense Commands down to posts, camps, and 
stations, 6 Apr 4 4 WDCS A 324.5 WAC. 

28 Memo cited |n. 12(2] , Tab I. 



276 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



the appearance of the uniform, although 
many were unfortunately too late to reach 
the field in the one remaining year before 
the end of the war in Europe. 

In the matter of public relations, the 
Director asked General Marshall to direct 
the formation of a co-ordinating board, 
which would not only initiate and direct 
an Army-wide constructive informational 
campaign, but would comment on the 
possible public relations effect of decisions 
concerning the WAC before the decisions 
were released. General Somervell stated, 
when asked to comment, that such a 
board was not necessary. 29 Colonel Hobby 
replied that General Somervell's attitude 
was "not in accord with fact or experi- 
ence," and that "The present situation has 
been unfortunate and it can reasonably be 
expected that a continuation of uncon- 
trolled and uncoordinated activity on the 
part of literally hundreds of issuing agen- 
cies will continue to be unsatisfac- 
tory. . . ." 30 

General Marshall, who had supposed 
that such a board already existed, over- 
rode objections and directed General 
Surles of the Bureau of Public Relations 
to set up the co-ordinating group, saying, 
"I have personally taken every opportu- 
nity to support the WAC. ... It is nec- 
essary that a central agency of the War 
Department be charged with the problem 
of keeping the public informed of matters 
concerning the WAC and of controlling 
the issuance of such information." 31 

Colonel Hobby also took this opportu- 
nity to secure the Chief of Staffs approval 
of several lesser projects which had pre- 
viously been rejected at lower levels. One 
concerned equal provision for the WAC in 
the Army's demobilization plans, which 
were already being drawn up, and in 
which planners had made no provision for 
women. General Marshall approved the 



greater part of what she asked, which was 
to be of considerable importance at a later 
period. 32 Another proposal was for the cen- 
tralization of recruiting control in the 
hands of specialists in The Adjutant Gen- 
eral's Office, similar to that just approved 
in Public Relations. These and other 
recommended reforms in the Recruiting 
Service were all approved by General 
Marshall, with far-reaching later effects. 33 

The Director also concurred in one of 
the suggestions made in the Meek Report, 
the establishment of a civilian advisory 
committee composed of prominent women 
in each service command, modeled on the 
group that she had established in the 
Women's Interests Section of the Bureau 
of Public Relations, when she had organ- 
ized that office in prewar days. This 
recommendation, providing for both local 
and national committees, was also ap- 
proved. General Somervell concurred, 
provided that he be allowed to choose the 
prominent woman to head the national 
committee. 34 

Within a few weeks, by General Mar- 
shall's action, there were six WAC lieuten- 
ant colonels. In April, a WAC officer was 
also assigned as commandant of the Third 
WAC Training Center. 35 

In a final comment on the Meek Re- 
port, General Somervell sent the Chief of 
Staff another study recommending that 
key WAC officers be replaced by promi- 

- ,J Memo cited In. 26(1)1 

30 Memo, Dir WAC for CofS, 4 Apr 44. WDGAP 
341 (4-4-44), and in WAC Gp, W'DBPR, under "Or- 
ganization of the WAC Group." 

31 Memo, CofS for Gen Surles. 1 1 Apr 44. WAC 
Gp, WDBPR, a nd in CofS 324.5 WAC. 

3J Memo cite d! n. 12(21} Tab J. 

" Memo, Dir WAC to CofS, 10 Apr 44, with CofS 
approval, 1 i Apr 44 . CofS 32 4.5 WAC. 

34 (1) Memo cited |n. 12(2)1 Tab H. (2) Memo cited 
In ^hm (3) Memo, CofS for CG ASF, 11 Apr 44. 
CofS 324.5 WAC. 

34 Memo, ASF for TAG, 13 Mar 44. SPGAG 210.3 
WAC (3-1 3-44)- 129. 



REMOVAL OF DIRECTOR'S OFFICE TO G-l DIVISION 



277 



nent women to be selected by him and 
directly commissioned. He also stated that 
WAC leaders had too much control of 
WAC affairs, and that Colonel Hobby's 
current powers should be reduced by 
eliminating those of direct dealing with 
the major commands, of handling staff 
co-ordination on WAC matters, of taking 
any action, and of maintaining separate 
records. ati 

None of these recommendations was 
adopted. The Army's new policy toward 
the WAC, as forcibly inaugurated here by 
General Marshall, was keynoted by the 
introduction of specialist groups or special- 
ist officers in almost every major office that 
handled WAC matters. The new location 
also ensured that Army-wide recommen- 
dations from the Office of the Director 
would not be rejected without considera- 
tion by the General Staff. From this time 
throughout General Marshall's tenure of 
office, specialist attention to women's wel- 
fare was to be the rule rather than the 
exception — with, however, the specialists 
concerned being fully integrated into their 
respective Army sections. 

With the completion of the move to G-l 
Division, and the accomplishment of the 
changes as approved by General Mar- 
shall, the Women's Army Corps completed 
its stage of organization and development, 
and entered a new phase of its career. 
Freed of the burden now assumed by the 
specialist groups, the small Office of the 
Director was to devote most of its time 
toward planning for the solution of the 
more intangible social and welfare prob- 
lems which, although pushed into the 
background until now, had from the be- 
ginning attended the integration of 
women into military service. 

The two years just ended had seen the 
discovery of the Corps' problems in public 
relations, clothing supply, administration, 



and many others. The next sixteen months 
in G-l Division, before the end of the war 
and Director Hobby's resignation, were to 
see workable solutions devised for all but 
five of the problems now on the Director's 
calendar. 

The Corps was, by its second anniver- 
sary in May 1944, already world-wide 
in distribution and approaching peak 
strength in numbers. Corps strength in 
June was almost 77,000, with the peak of 
100,000 not too far distant. In the United 
States, Wacs were present at 193 Air Forces 
installations, and 176 Ground Forces and 
Service Forces stations. Almost 10,000 
women were already overseas in every 
major theater of operations— North Af- 
rica, Italy, England, Australia, New 
Guinea, India— as well as in Hawaii, 
Alaska, and other smaller bases." 

In May of 1944, the authorized strength 
was reallotted among the major com- 
mands; * 8 

Army Service Forces " 60,000 

Army Air Forces 60,000 

Armv Ground Forces ..„-.,. 7,500 

War 'Department , . 1,050 

Overseas theaters - 21,450 

150,000 

" Including training centers 

In these widely scattered Army com- 
mands, with their varying needs and poli- 
cies, lay the further history of WAC 
employment, and success or failure on 
Army jobs. 



« Memo, CG ASF. for CofS. 5 PAP 324.5 1 3-29-44) 
in Dir Pers ASF files. 

«m Memo, Dcp Dir WAC for CofS, 2 1 Jul 44. 
WDCSA 324.3 WAC. (2) WDBPR Press Release, 1 7 
Jun 44, 

»* D/F G-l for ASF. S May 44. WDCAP 3 20.2 
Misc, WAC CI files, based on Memo, Dir WAC for 
G-l. 17 Apr 44. For previous quotas, see: Ltr, TAG to 
CG ASF, 22 Oct 43. AG 320.2 WAC (11-19-43) 
PR-W-SPGAS, 



PART TWO 
WORLD-WIDE EMPLOYMENT 



CHAPTER XVI 



The Army 

Among the various Army commands, 
the Army Air Forces had been the first to 
employ Waacs and was now the first in 
field strength of WAC units. The history 
of the Air Forces Wacs was the story of 
almost one half of the Women's Army 
Corps — some 40,000 of the eventual 
100,000 women. 1 

In spite of its enthusiasm for the use of 
womanpower, the Air Forces faced greater 
initial handicaps in employing Wacs than 
did other domestic commands. Subordi- 
nate air commands did not cover definite 
geographical areas as did service com- 
mands, but were strictly functional in 
nature, each having control of air bases 
scattered throughout the United States. 
Staff directors thus found the problem of 
supervision and supply more complex, 
and were obliged to take to the air to 
cover the distances between units assigned 
to their commands. The AAF's great 
Training Command had flying schools 
and technical schools from Florida to 
California; its Troop Carrier Command 
stations were less numerous but as widely 
separated; Air Service Command depots 
were scattered from coast to coast. The 
First, Second, Third, and Fourth Air 
Forces together covered the United States 
in their mission of forming men into com- 
bat groups for the numbered Air Forces 
overseas. The AAF's Materiel Command 
had one large WAC unit at Wright Field; 



Air Forces 

the School of Applied Tactics had an even 
larger unit at Orlando, Florida; and the 
Proving Ground Command had one iso- 
lated group at Eglin Field, Florida. 

Although air bases were generally pre- 
pared to receive the women, they were 
caught without advance warning when 
the War Department ended the T/O sys- 
tem for the WAC some months before the 
Air Forces did the same for its men — a 
move that suited the Service Forces but 
left the AAF without means of accounting 
for the women. The new Air WAC Officer, 
Major Bandel, upon her arrival in 1943, 
found headquarters agencies shuttling the 
War Department directive back and forth 
from A-4 to A-l and again to A-4. She 
noted later: 



1 (1) First Wacs to the field were in AWS units. 
While AAF WAC strength was greater in the field, 
ASF was greater if training centers were included. 
(2) The chief source of reference for this chapter is 
the AAF WAG Hist, b y Lt. Col. Betty Bandel, (See 
[Bibliographical Note]. On the basis of 1945 reports, 
Colonel Bandel estimates 42,000 women as the AAF 
WAC top, including those in pipeline from training 
centers or to overseas theaters. Later AAF statistics 
set the actual top at about 40,000. Statistics used here 
do not always agree with later TAG re-evaluation of 
reports, but were those available to the AAF in its 
wartime planning. See Table 9: "WAC Asgd to AAF," 
and Table 13 (for 1946), in AAF Statistical Digest, 
World War II, prepared by Office of Statistical Con- 
trol, AAF Hq. Hereafter cited as AAF Stat Digest. 
On file at U.S. Air Forces Historical Division, Air 
University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. 
Hereaft er referred to as USAF Hist Div. See also 
|Table 4,| Appendix A. 



282 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



To a headquarters wrestling with the prob- 
lem of throwing thousands of fighting men 
and aircraft around the world, the entire 
WAAC program must have seemed at that 
moment a troublesome gnat buzzing around 
the head of a giant. 

Promptly snaring the gnat on its return 
trip through A-4, the Air WAC Officer 
worked out a series of directives and ac- 
counting procedures which allowed the 
program to continue without interruption 
and which eventually led to full integra- 
tion. 

Acceptance of Wacs on A irfields 

Wacs arriving on air bases ordinarily 
reported an enthusiastic reception. One 
company commander noted: 

The friendly atmosphere and co-operative 
spirit prevalent throughout this post have 
made the Wacs feel that they are a definite 

Sart of the military life here. Everything is 
eing done to further the comfort of the 
group. 2 

By mid- 1944, Wacs became even more 
popular when, the supply of infantry re- 
placements having proved insufficient, the 
War Department required the transfer of 
thousands of combat-fit men from the Air 
Forces to the Ground Forces. Airfields 
thus lost many of the specialized medical 
and technical personnel upon whom they 
had depended for normal operations, and 
Wacs became increasingly sought after as 
replacements. 

Receptivity was also greatly increased 
by the official action of General Arnold 
and his staff, whose policy from the begin- 
ning was to neglect no measure that might 
impress upon the public the AAF's real 
need for Wacs and its cordiality toward 
them. When the Air-WAC recruiting 
campaign was launched in October of 



1943, General Arnold issued a public 
statement that "members of the WAC 
have made an enviable record through 
their work at Air Force installations." 3 In 
November the Deputy Chief of Air Staff, 
Brig. Gen. William E. Hall, journeyed to 
Philadelphia to see the first all- Air- WAC 
company sworn in. In December Maj, 
Gen. Barney McK. Giles, the Deputy 
Chief of Air Staff, wrote to all Air Wacs 
that "it is the record you have made which 
has convinced the AAF of the great value 
of Wacs." 4 In the same month the AAF 
declared a national "Air WAC Week" in 
which airfields everywhere honored their 
Wacs at retreat parades and other cere- 
monies. Upon receipt of evidence that 
military personnel were involved in the 
slander campaign, General Arnold de- 
nounced such undercutting of his policy 
in an angry letter to the field. 5 With such 
constant and public declaration of policy, 
the Army Air Forces came to have the 
reputation in the eyes of the public and of 
the Wacs themselves of being friendly 
toward the employment of Wacs, and ap- 
preciative of their services. 

The Air WA C Division 

This attitude showed itself in AAF 
headquarters by a willingness to consider 
favorably the recommendations of the Air 
WAC Officer, A working WAC staff or- 
ganization was set up which, in Lt. Col. 
Betty Bandel's opinion, was near-perfect 
under existing conditions. The Air WAC 
Division was granted a strength of six of- 
ficers plus clerical help, and was eventu- 
ally placed in the office of the Assistant 

2 WAC CO, Mather Field, Calif. AAF WAC Hist, 
p. 20. 

3 WDBPR Press Release, 20 Oct 43. 
* AAF WAC Hist, pp. 62-64. 

5 Ltr, CG AAF to all Air Forces and Comds, 22 Feb 
44. WD WAC 341 (3-16-44). 



THE ARMY AIR FORCES 



283 



Chief of Air Staff for Personnel (A-l). 
Although in Colonel Bandel's opinion a 
location in the Special Staff would have 
insured easier co-ordination with other 
offices, in actual practice the policies and 
personal assistance of Maj. Gen, James M. 
Bevans and his staff in A-l made for al- 
most equal freedom and efficiency of 
operation. 6 

The generally co-operative spirit em- 
boldened the Air WAC Division to divest 
itself at once of all operating powers, con- 
fining its activities to study of field condi- 
tions, formulation of policy recommenda- 
tions, and co-ordination of the WAC 
program. It was able to take this action 
chiefly because each major operating divi- 
sion of AAF headquarters early accepted 
the assignment of a WAC specialist to per- 
form the operating duties, either full-time 
or in addition to other duties. These offices 
included AAF's Military Personnel Divi- 
sion, both Officer Branch and Enlisted 
Branch; the Assistant Chief of Air Staff 
for Training; headquarters and regional 
offices of the Air Inspector; the Air Sur- 
geon; and the Air Provost Marshal. 

Together, representatives in these offices 
formed a good example of what was 
known to Wacs as the Tel-a-Wac system, 
reputedly faster than telephone or tele- 
graph. The Air WAC Division was seldom 
left in ignorance of developments in the 
larger AAF program, and in return the 
various division chiefs, to whom the other 
WAC officers concerned owed primary 
allegiance, were seldom caught short by 
higher authorities concerning knowledge 
of WAC matters for which they were re- 
sponsible. Policy papers were originated 
either by the Air WAC Division or by the 
division that discovered the need for them, 
and were mutually co-ordinated before 
publication. A headquarters regulation 
required all publications mentioning the 



WAC to be co-ordinated with the Air 
WAC Division. Offices were also reminded 
in writing that, in drafting all publica- 
tions, they should remember that AAF 
Regulations were equally applicable to 
Wacs, unless specifically excepted, and 
that if any explanatory passages were 
needed they should be added. 7 

AAF "Firsts" 

Under this system, a notable series of 
AAF "firsts" resulted, to which that or- 
ganization was not backward about call- 
ing attention. The Air Forces was first in 
full integration and abolition of WAC 
grades; first to attempt branch recruiting; 
first to require WAC inspectors at all com- 
mand levels employing Wacs. It was the 
first to make a woman a lieutenant colonel, 
and was stopped from going further only 
by Congressional limitations; first to re- 
quest the employment of WAC officers in 
non-WAC or "operational" jobs; first and 
only domestic command to propose exten- 
sive improvements in the WAC uniform, 
and its recommendations in this field were 
the ammunition with which Colonel 
Hobby finally won many arguments. It 
was the first major command to allow 
its own insignia to be worn by Wacs and to 
recommend that they be detailed in the 
Air Corps or the appropriate arm or serv- 
ice, a move that did much to make the 
women feel an accepted part of the Air 
Forces. 

The AAF was the first to admit enlisted 
women to all men's noncombat schools, in- 
cluding some previously deemed unusual 
for women; first to propose, even if un- 
successfully, that women officers be 



6 Before its assignment to A-l, the Air WAC Divi- 
sion had been briefly in A-4 (ACofAS for Materiel, 
Maintenance, and Distribution). 

7 AAF Hq Office Instruction 5-13, 29 Nov 44. 



284 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



allowed to go to men's noncombat officer 
candidate schools if they were not in- 
tended as WAC administrators; the first 
major command to support a school for 
the advanced training of WAC troop 
officers. It unsuccessfully recommended 
that Wacs be sent to the Army's School of 
Military Government as a preparation for 
duty in occupied areas. It was the first to 
bring to the War Department's attention 
the need for interpretation of certain dis- 
charge regulations, and for establishment 
of a system of maternity care for dis- 
charged women. It was the first major 
command to supervise the overseas place- 
ment of its own women by studying the 
needs of its components overseas and 
guaranteeing to fill them at its own ex- 
pense. As a result, the Eighth and Ninth 
Air Forces in England, and to a lesser 
degree the air forces in Italy, the Pacific, 
and India, received well-selected, Air 
Forces-trained Wacs in numbers greater 
than the War Department had proposed 
to supply them. 8 

The AAF did not share other com- 
mands' distaste for specialized explanatory 
publications in any matter in which 
Colonel Bandel reported widespread mis- 
understanding in the field. The Air Forces 
was first to publish a circular defining the 
WAC company commander's job, and 
thus to end the friction and misunder- 
standing prevalent over that point in other 
commands where section chiefs claimed 
the commander's normal powers. 9 Another 
directive cautioned local commanders 
against placing enlisted women on com- 
mutation of quarters and rations or order- 
ing them to stations where no housing 
existed. In six separate publications the 
Air Forces discussed all phases of success- 
ful selection of women for overseas ship- 
ment. 



After a series of poor selections of WAC 
officer candidates, AAF headquarters 
amplified the War Department regulation 
and spelled out a precise procedure, in- 
cluding the often-neglected provision that 
selection boards would contain one WAC 
officer — the AAF made it two — and that 
rating lists based on merit alone would be 
maintained at Air Command level, not 
lower. Likewise, the AAF published a 
WAC inspection manual, listing standards 
which should be expected in such matters 
as women's medical care, uniform and ap- 
pearance, leadership, and the com- 
mander's handling of marital and social 
problems. Similarly, the AAF included in 
its personnel officers' handbook a chapter 
on WAC administration. 10 

AAF headquarters also permitted the 



8 In order: (1) Speech, Maj Bandel, Min, Stf Dirs 
Conf, New York, 1-3 Dec 43. SPWA 337 (11-10-43). 

(2) AAF WAC Hist, pp. 12, 49, n. 1, 67, 84; also AAF 
Ltr 35-83, 29 Apr 44, and 21 Aug 44, pp. 65, 85, 
86-87. (3) Memo, Exec WAC for CG AAF, 22 Feb 
44, returned, 9 Mar 44, by CG AAF for further study. 
(4) Se c overseas chapters below, particularly Ch. 

IxxTl 

9 AAF Reg 35-44, 10 Nov 43, revised and amended 
14 Sep 44, 18 Oct 44, and 19 Jan 45: "WAC squad- 
rons will be commanded by WAC Officers, who will 
have administrative authority and duties analogous 
and equivalent to those of a company commander. 
. . . The WAC squadron commander is charged with 
housing, messing, supply, discipline, training, recrea- 
tion, morale, well-being, maintaining WAC squadron 
records, and rendering necessary reports. . . . Recom- 
mendations for changes of status, including promo- 
tion, reduction, transfer, discharge, etc., may originate 
with the Officer in whose section or unit the Wac is 
working, or with the WAC squadron commander. In 
all such cases the recommendations must bear the 
indorsements both of the Officer in whose section or 
unit the Wac is working, and of the WAC squadron 
commander." 

10 (1) AAF Reg 35-49, 13 Jan 44. (2) AAF Ltrs: 
35-119, 3 Aug 44; 35-152, 6 Nov 44; 35-175, 27 Dec 
44 and 14 Feb 45; 35-175a, 6 Mar 45; 35-47, 6 Apr 
45; 35-65, 12 Sep 44; 35-89, 9 Apr and 28 May 45. 

(3) AAF Manual 120-2, WAC Insp Manual, Hq 
AAF, 10 Apr 44. (4) AAF WAC Hist, pp. 45, 46, 67, 
and 84; AAF Reg 120-12, 25 Dec 43. 



THE ARMY AIR FORCES 



285 



Air WAC Division to send an informal 
monthly mimeographed letter to its staff 
directors, explaining the reasons behind 
current actions by headquarters. The re- 
cipients of these letters were responsible 
for passing on this information to their 
WAC company commanders. This serv- 
ice was so popular with Wacs in the field 
that non-Air Forces staff directors overseas 
asked to be included on the mailing list, 
stating that they otherwise did not see 
even War Department regulations for 
months, if ever; and non-AAF company 
commanders set up regular correspond- 
ence with AAF WAC squadron com- 
manders to learn what they could, stating 
that War Department circulars were 
seldom otherwise available to company 
commanders. 

Flying Jobs for Women 

In the field, the Air Forces' progressive 
attitude was demonstrated chiefly by an 
equal lack of inhibitions in the assign- 
ment of women to new and unconven- 
tional jobs. No AAF schools were barred 
to women except combat schools, and 
no AAF jobs for which they could qualify, 
however unusual for women. It was not 
even the Air Forces' intention to exclude 
women from the most extreme masculine 
province: its flying schools and assignment 
as pilot. 

Women quite early had been hired as 
ferry pilots, on a Civil Service status. Air 
Forces headquarters had planned that this 
group, first called the WAAF and later 
the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots), 
would be placed in the Army as part of the 
WAC as soon as Congress had made the 
WAAC a part of the Army. Such an addi- 
tion was agreeable to WAC authorities, in- 



cluding both Colonel Hobby and the Air 
WAC Officer, since the number of women 
pilots was relatively tiny — some 800 as 
against Colonel BandePs 40,000 Air 
Wacs — and could have been administered 
without additional expense. However, the 
proposed merger was blocked by the 
Director WASP, Mrs. Jacqueline Cochran 
Odium, who recommended that women 
pilots not be grouped with other Air Corps 
officers, but given a separate military 
corps on equal status with the WAC, with 
a director equal in rank to Colonel Hobby. 
Legislation to this effect was attempted, 
but failed, and Congressional sentiment 
against the use of women as pilots was so 
strongly stirred up that the Air Forces was 
forced to disband the WASP without ever 
giving its members military status and 
benefits. Some WAC officers and enlisted 
women were also found to be qualified 
pilots, but it was deemed unwise ever to 
assign them as such in view of the em- 
phatic nature of the Congressional de- 
cision. 1 1 

Enlisted flying jobs for Wacs, other than 
that of pilot, were never forbidden, 
although no such jobs had been considered 
by early planners because of the greater 
need for women elsewhere. As soon as as- 
signment was turned over to local authori- 
ties, it proved impossible to keep a few 
women out of certain flying duties for 
which they had peculiar qualifications. 
Within two months Mitchel Field re- 
ported that it possessed the first two "fly- 
ing Wacs," radio operators who were 
participating in B-17 training flights. This 

11 (1) Memo, CofAS for G-l, with Ind, WAAC Hq, 
17 Apr 43. SPWA 314.7 (1-7-43) sec 1. (2) Memo, 
Arnold for Marshall Jun 43], with reply from G-l, 
20 Jun 43. SPWA 324.5 GAP (3-25-43). (3) Hist Recs 
Rpt 319, History of ATC: Women Pilots in ATC. 
USAF Hist Div. (4) For further discussion, sec Sum- 
mary of WASP Controversy, |Appendix D.| 



286 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



precipitated scores of requests from other 
Wacs for flying duty. A few more WAC 
radio operators, mechanics, and photog- 
raphers were soon assigned to regular 
runs. Several such Wacs actually received 
Air Medals, including one in India for her 
work in mapping the Hump, and one 
posthumously after the crash of an aerial 
broadcasting plane. 

Both the women and the airfields con- 
cerned were ordinarily so pleased with 
themselves for accomplishing flying duty 
assignments that Air Forces headquarters, 
when it discovered them, published a di- 
rective authorizing such duty provided 
that the flights concerned were not for 
purposes of combat training, and that 
Wacs did not replace any man who might 
be receiving combat training on these 
flights. 

The Air WAC Officer, while not dis- 
couraging such duty for women well 
suited for it, did not encourage any exten- 
sion of it, or widespread training of women 
for it. Her opposition was due partly to the 
difficulty of housing a female crew mem- 
ber when nonscheduled landings were 
necessary, and partly to the danger of 
public outcry if any Wac was assigned to a 
position that even remotely involved com- 
bat training. Later in the war the Air 
Transport Command repeatedly proposed 
to use Wacs to replace male flight clerks on 
scheduled passenger runs. This was at first 
discouraged because of the irregular hous- 
ing arrangements involved, but was even- 
tually approved on a small scale and 
proved successful in flights such as those 
from Paris to London. 12 

Even including these flight clerks, the 
number of Wacs on flying duty, wearing 
wings and drawing flying pay, was never 
great. Only twenty Wacs held the Speci- 
fication Serial Number of Air Crew Mem- 



ber, and flying radio operators and other 
technicians were equally scarce. 

This comparative absence of a relatively 
exciting and popular type of Air Forces 
duty was one factor with which com- 
manders of female troops had to reckon in 
maintaining morale. Many air-base com- 
manders, recognizing the difficulty, di- 
rected that Wacs be allowed to go on local 
flights as passengers where space per- 
mitted, or for at least one orientation flight 
upon arrival at a station. Nevertheless, 
most AAF Wacs seldom saw the inside of a 
plane, and many were in the unfortunate 
position of Air Transport Command Wacs 
in Scotland and Wales, who were shipped 
overseas by boat and complained that they 
knew there was an outside world only by 
remarks dropped by transient men. Be- 
cause of the value of occasional flights to 
women's morale, the Air WAC Officer se- 
cured a directive making clear that 
women were to have the same privileges 
as other military personnel in "hopping 
rides" or flying on military orders. 13 

Specialist Training 

AAF headquarters from the beginning 
showed enthusiasm for training Waacs in 
other technical and mechanical jobs 
which were not ordinarily considered a 
woman's field. An elaborate training sys- 
tem was originally planned, with 8,000 
women a month to be fed into AAF 
schools for training as everything from 

12 (1) AAF WAC Hist, pp. 19 and 41. (2) AAF Reg 
35-45, 12 Nov 43. (3) WDBPR Press Release, 14 May 
46. (4) Memo, AAF for Dir WAC. 30 Aug 45. 
WD WAC 319.1 AAF. 

11 (1) For list of Specification Serial Numbers see 
AAF Stat Contl Rpt SC-PS-123, sub: Strength of 
AAF Pers in WAC Within Continental U.S. by Comd, 
SSN, and Race. (2) Hist Recs Rpt 315c, Wacs in 
European Division, ATC, June 1944-August 1945, by 
European Division, ATC. USAF Hist Div. 



288 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



armorers to weather forecasters, in addi- 
tion to 5,000 a month to be received 
already trained in WAAC schools as 
clerks. This plan was very similar to the 
system actually used on a smaller scale by 
the Naval Air Service, which determined 
in advance to employ set numbers of 
Waves as Link trainer instructors, control 
tower operators, and other specialists, and 
trained them accordingly. The Army Air 
Forces carried the plan so far as to set up 
Wac classes at the AAF Photolaboratory 
School at Lowry Field, which trained sev- 
eral all-WAC photolaboratory companies. 
The AAF also earlier encouraged the 
WAAC to set up its radio training school 
at Kansas City, and contracted to employ 
all graduates. 14 

However, as women began to arrive, 
the AAF was surprised to discover that the 
majority of women, unlike the 17- and 
18-year-old boys who were being in- 
ducted, had a usable job skill before they 
entered the Army. To employ the average 
Wac successfully, it proved necessary only 
to place her, fresh from basic training, on 
almost any airfield, where, if not immedi- 
ately snatched into too many pieces by 
competing section chiefs, she ordinarily 
soon found useful employment. The num- 
ber of recruits arriving was never great 
enough to make placement a problem. 

The Air Forces therefore soon dropped 
all but a few of its formal technical train- 
ing plans for women, and adopted a sys- 
tem which was believed to be the most 
natural, speedy, and economical under 
the circumstances. Most AAF Wacs fin- 
ishing basic training were shipped im- 
mediately to air bases having need of per- 
sonnel in their civilian skills and were 
assigned to immediate duty or to on-the- 
job training, which was believed less 
wasteful of time than the average technical 



course. If a station needed a specialist it 
was unable to train, or if a Wac showed 
such aptitude that higher specialized 
training was clearly indicated, the sta- 
tion was authorized to send her to any 
noncombat AAF school that could ar- 
range to house her. In such cases the sta- 
tion ordinarily had to take the trainee 
back upon graduation and employ her in 
the new skill; training was thus seldom 
employed merely to gratify individual 
desires for unnecessary training or to get 
rid of troublesome individuals. 

Unfortunately for the compilation of 
statistics, the attendance of Wacs at AAF 
technical schools was so well integrated 
and came to excite so little comment that 
it was later impossible to determine ex- 
actly how many women had attended 
each course and how their record com- 
pared with that of male students. It was 
known only that approximately 2,000 
women successfully completed courses in 
AAF technical schools, including weather 
observers, weather forecasters, electrical 
specialists of several kinds, sheet metal 
workers, Link trainer instructors, cryp- 
tographers, teletype operators, radio me- 
chanics, control tower specialists, para- 
chute riggers, bombsight maintenance 
specialists, clerks, airplane mechanics, 
photolaboratory technicians and photo- 
interpreters, chaplains' assistants, and 
physical and military training specialists. 
Lt. Gen. Barton K. Yount, commanding 
general of the AAF Training Command, 
wrote, "Their record of accomplishment 
reflects great credit upon the Women's 
Army Corps and the Army. . . . Their 
contribution to the Training Command's 
mission has been invaluable." 13 

14 AAF WAC Hist, pp. 41-42. 

'"•Ltr. Gen Yount to Dir WAC, 5 May 45. 
WDWAC 201.22. 



THE ARMY AIR FORCES 



289 



Conventional Clerical Jobs 

At the peak of enrollment, in January 
of 1945, it was estimated that about 50 
percent of AAF Wacs in the United States 
held administrative or office jobs, being as- 
signed as typists, stenographers, and vari- 
ous sorts of clerks. 16 This was a percentage 
of women in conventional jobs consider- 
ably smaller than that in most other com- 
mands or overseas theaters, where the 
numbers in "feminine" work ranged as 
high as 90 percent in commands such as 
the Eighth Air Force in England. The 
work of such Air Wacs did not ordinarily 
differ from clerical work in other com- 
mands, except that it required a knowl- 
edge of Air Forces nomenclature, organi- 
zation, and administrative procedures. 

The different air commands differed 
slightly from each other in certain uses for 
these clerical workers. The largest, the 
AAF Training Command, with its hun- 
dreds of flying training schools and tech- 
nical training schools, found Wacs par- 
ticularly useful in keeping the complicated 
records of trainees, training courses, and 
flight hours. The domestic air forces — 
First, Second, Third, and Fourth — like- 
wise used Wacs to keep their personnel 
and flight records, and also to staff the as- 
sembly lines by which crews and equip- 
ment were processed for overseas ship- 
ment. The Air Technical Service Com- 
mand used WAC clerks at its large depots 
to keep stock records of the thousands of 
items of Air Forces technical equipment. 
The Air Transport Command, running 
the Army equivalent of a commercial air- 
line system, used numbers of Wacs at its 
information desks, in its dispatching 
offices, and to process passengers and sup- 
plies through aerial ports of embarkation. 
Toward the end of the war, the new AAF 



Personnel Distribution Command used 
Wacs to process personnel in replacement 
depots, redistribution centers, and con- 
valescent centers. 

Army Air Forces headquarters itself 
lagged behind its commands only because 
of the War Department ban on bringing 
Wacs into Washington. After repeated 
efforts to circumvent this policy, an open- 
ing was found in December of 1943 by the 
authorization to bring in twenty WAC 
messengers to handle secret and confi- 
dential mail, which had been repeatedly 
going astray under civilian operation. 
These were soon followed by weather ob- 
servers, statistical machine operators, and 
others to a total of several hundred, 
housed at Boiling Field and working in 
the Pentagon. 17 

Technical Assignments 

Technical jobs tended to increase in 
number toward the end of the war, as it 
became increasingly difficult for the AAF 
to get enlisted men in the top AGCT 
brackets necessary for some of the work. 
An especial competition for women of 
high ability developed between Air Forces 
agencies, which were frequently hard put 
to find men of suitable qualifications for 
technical work who were not immediately 
lost to officer candidate school or needed 
for overseas stations. 

Weather Observers 

AAF's Weather Wing, which sought 
Wacs long before it ever saw one, finally 
obtained a quota of 500. A few were sent 

16 Rpt cited |n. Administrative jobs totaled 
46 percent, plus undoubtedly some of the group 
marked "Duty." 

17 AAF WAC Hist, p. 66. 



290 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



to the regular Weather School, but most 
were trained on the job, five or six Wacs 
taking over the weather station at air 
bases where they could be housed with a 
WAC company. The majority of such 
Wacs were weather observers; only a few 
were ever trained for the more compli- 
cated job of weather forecaster, for which 
there was no shortage of men. The quota 
of 500 was never entirely filled in spite of 
all efforts. 18 

Radio and Cryptographic Work 

The Army Airways Communications 
System (AACS), which had a quota of 
1,450 and which competed for high-type 
personnel, chiefly sought radio operators. 
At the height of a shortage of this per- 
sonnel, AACS discovered that several hun- 
dred WAAC radio operators and me- 
chanics had been shipped under the old 
T/O system to airfields that did not need 
them. An individual search by name was 
instituted to unearth them. Some women 
were found suitably assigned to air-base 
radio stations, or as code instructors in 
schools such as the AAF Navigation 
School at Hondo, Texas, but others who 
were doing clerical work were carried off 
by AACS. These were assigned in groups 
of six or eight to operate AACS radio sta- 
tions at airfields where a WAC unit was 
located. Most female radio operators re- 
cruited by the AAF were also given to 
AACS; when its needs still remained un- 
filled, AACS was also assigned Wacs with- 
out radio skills but of high intelligence and 
promising background. At a special AACS 
screening center, these women were tested 
and those with any radio abilities were 
sent to intensive training courses. Those 
with college or research backgrounds were 



trained as cryptographers, for which 
women proved especially suitable because 
of the exacting and monotonous nature 
of the work. 19 

Control Tower Operators 

Those with good diction and good 
nerves, such as former teachers and tele- 
phone operators, were trained by AACS 
as control tower operators, after a brief 
dispute concerning whether females 
should be given a position of such responsi- 
bility. Even the advanced British services 
did not at this time use women in this 
work. 20 Some objectors feared that a 
woman's voice would not be audible, that 
women would become hysterical in emer- 
gencies and be unable to give the neces- 
sary landing directions, or that women's 
training as control tower operators would 
interfere with men's training. One AACS 
region, in fact, put out a directive that 
"under no circumstances will WAAC per- 
sonnel be permitted to operate the micro- 
phone in an airways station or airdrome 
control tower, or to operate on the net in 
an airways station." AACS headquarters 
quickly overruled the regional head- 
quarters, stating that its need for per- 
sonnel would require all qualified women 
as well as men. 

From the end of 1943 onward, Wacs 
served successfully in these positions. 
Pilots seemed to experience no difficulty in 
following women's voices, and while no 
major emergencies occurred to test WAC 
operators' self-control, in several minor 



18 Ibid., pp. 12, 42, 66-67. Appendix shows 242 
WAC weather specialists. 
,fl Ibid., pp. 13, 31-32, 66. 

20 Memo, Sgt Goodwin for Col Hobby, 17 Apr 44, 
re inquiry from Air Chief Marshal Frederick W. Bow- 
hill. WDWAC 211 Control. 



THE ARMY AIR FORCES 



291 



crashes they rerouted aircraft and di- 
rected rescue apparatus in a manner that 
received praise. Colonel Bandel later re- 
ported, "Wacs love the work and have 
been highly commended. There seems to 
be no difference between men and women 
in adaptability to this work." 21 

The only difficulty experienced by 
AACS and Weather Wing in any of these 
technical assignments was a purely admin- 
istrative one: they considered their Wacs, 
like their men, to be high-grade specialists 
who should perform no kitchen police or 
other duties for the unit with which they 
lived, whereas the WAC units, being 
smaller than men's units, seldom appre- 
ciated such exalted boarders, and de- 
manded that these women share company 
rules and company duties. When differ- 
ences threatened to result in eviction, both 
AACS and Weather Wing acquired WAC 
staff directors, whose chief duties were to 
travel continuously, persuading AACS 
supervisors that specialists could without 
damage be housekeepers, and convincing 
WAC commanders that some shift workers 
on exacting technical work might properly 
be given a few concessions. 22 

Business Machine Operators 

In 1944 another shortage developed, 
that of skilled operators of business ma- 
chines for AAF's statistical control units 
throughout the United States. Available 
trained men were required for mobile 
overseas units, and the need eventually 
became such that priority of assignment 
was given for 1,000 Wacs for statistical 
control work. Since few women skilled in 
this work could be recruited, women with 
suitable intelligence and aptitude were 
chosen and sent to a six-week intensive 



training course at the AAF School at 
Orlando, Florida. Women proved espe- 
cially apt at the work, although many 
complaints were received concerning its 
monotony and the refusal of statistical 
control units to vary the duties or permit 
transfer or rotation between stations. 23 

Link Trainer Instructors 

Another popular technical job for Wacs 
was that of Link trainer instructor. As 
early as November of 1942, AAF head- 
quarters had proposed the use of Waacs in 
this work, since "Men suitable to act as 
such instructors are rapidly disappearing 
into officer candidate schools." Men 
qualified to do the work often were pilots 
or potential pilots themselves, and were 
not content to remain as enlisted in- 
structors, once trained. A number of Wacs 
selected by local authorities were therefore 
trained in the men's training school for 
Link trainer instructors, and others 
learned the work on the job; the duties 
proved both successful and satisfying to 
the women. 21 

Mechanics 

Had hundreds of thousands of Wacs 
been available, the AAF had planned to 
train many women as mechanics, but 
since all recruits obtainable were needed 
for other jobs, and since the work was less 
suitable because of women's lesser physi- 
cal strength, no particular attempt was 
made to train large numbers of them. 
Nevertheless, several hundred women 

-' Memo,~Air WAC Off for Ass: Chief WAC Br 
G-l, 19 Apr 44. WDWAC 211 Control. 

22 Ltr, forwarded to Hq AAF by 1st Ind, Hq 
AACS, 4 Apr 45. AACS 220/1. 

21 AAF WAC Hist, p. 67. 

2t Ibid., p. 13. 



292 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



with civilian skills, requiring no further 
training, were assigned to the work. One 
station, by way of experiment, successfully 
set up an entire flight line staffed by some 
sixty WAG mechanics. 

Some WAC staff directors were ex- 
tremely doubtful about such work be- 
cause of what they termed the coarsening 
effect on women of the average conversa- 
tion encountered from men on most flight 
lines. However, the assignment was the 
only economical one for skilled women 
from civilian employment in the aircraft 
industry, and such women usually dis- 
played a keen interest in assignment in 
their specialty and in the advanced me- 
chanical training open to them, regardless 
of its effect on their vocabulary. 

Medics 

Some 6 percent of Air Wacs were medi- 
cal specialists. Medical companies for 
larger AAF hospitals were requested as 
early as April and May of 1943, eighteen 
months before the ASF adopted WAC 
general hospital companies, but these had 
to be refused at the time for lack of trained 
WAAC personnel. As a result, no formally 
organized WAC hospital companies were 
ever employed by the AAF, which instead 
used whatever workers were available — 
clerks, receptionists, orderlies and medical 
technicians — as part of regular squadrons. 
These women were trained on the job in- 
stead of receiving special courses — a sys- 
tem that proved inferior to school instruc- 
tion only in that it was necessary for 
inspectors constantly to prod hospital 
authorities to continue upgrading Wacs 
instead of leaving them as untrained or- 
derlies. Nevertheless, twelve different 
medical Specification Serial Numbers 
came to be held by AAF Wacs." 



Aircraft Warning Service 

Another group of specialists, veterans in 
length of service, were the approximately 
1,000 women, remnants of the Aircraft 
Warning Service, who continued to per- 
form duties with Fighter Command sta- 
tions along the eastern seaboard. Theo- 
retically these duties were clerical; ac- 
tually, until near the end of hostilities the 
Wacs also continued to help in operations 
and filter centers when civilian volunteers 
defaulted. At the AAF School of Applied 
Tactics at Orlando, Florida, 500 more 
AWS veterans assisted in the aircraft 
warning portion of the school's training 
function. Women proved particularly 
suitable for this work, which was both 
monotonous and exacting, but as the dan- 
ger of aerial invasion became more and 
more remote, women began to complain 
of fatigue after two or more years at this 
work, and to request transfer to other 
duties, which was seldom forthcoming. 

Miscellaneous 

In addition, some 5 percent of Air Wacs 
were drivers; 4 percent, supply experts; 3 
percent, photographic technicians; 2 per- 
cent, telephone and teletype operators. 
Lesser numbers were radar operators, 
armament specialists, carpenters, dieti- 
tians, and interpreters. College women 
and others with responsible civilian ex- 
perience were frequently assigned as 
librarians, classification specialists, in- 
structors, personnel clerks, vocational ad- 
visers, occupational therapists, reporters 
and editors, and historians. The AAF's 
flexible system of assigning Wacs made it 
possible to fill special needs or to place un- 

25 Ibid., pp. 13, 36. 



THE ARMY AIR FORCES 



293 



usual skills found in only a handful of 
women: these included topographers, 
cartographers, sanitary inspectors, geo- 
detic computers, chemists, and many 
others even more unusual. 26 A former 
watch repairwoman was trained in secret 
bombsight maintenance; six photographic 
airbrush artists illustrated technical man- 
uals at Patterson Field; Russian interpre- 
ters found employment at ATC's Montana 
terminal. In California, the WAC's only 
dog trainer found that the AAF could also 
provide dogs to train. 1 ' 7 

Officers 

WAC officers assigned to the Army Air 
Forces were admitted to more than sixty 
different types of jobs in addition to that of 
company officer. 28 These were all full- 
fledged officer jobs; as soon as WAC offi- 
cers arrived in AAF headquarters, a writ- 
ten directive made it clear that they were 
to replace commissioned officers only, and 
specifically not warrant officers or civil- 

* on 

lans. 

The majority were given administrative 
jobs in the fields of personnel, office man- 
agement, mess, supply, and finance. Num- 
bers were also found useful in jobs that in- 
volved dealing with people — special serv- 
ices, information and education, and 
public relations. A few WAC officers by 
the end of the war had worked up to posi- 
tions of some responsibility; there was one 
air-base judge advocate, one inspector 
general, one base executive, and thirteen 
who held the coveted Specification Serial 
Number 2260, personnel staff officer. 

Grades and Ratings 

The wide scope of Air Forces jobs open 
to Wacs, both officer and enlisted, could 
be attributed chiefly to the AAF policy of 



full integration and the resulting abolition 
of all separate WAC grades, allotments, 
and Tables of Organization. An AAF 
Regulation stated, "Practices which tend 
to apportion grades and promotions by 
sex rather than by actual duty assignment 
are undesirable, as they serve to impair 
efficiency and morale." 30 Actually, when 
the total was reckoned, men were found to 
be far more highly rated than women, for 
most AAF Wacs had come on the scene in 
1943 and 1944 when most high grades had 
already been distributed. Air Forces men 
in the United States still had four times 
the percentage of master sergeants' rat- 
ings that women did; twenty times the 
percentage of technical sergeants; ten 
times that of staff sergeants, and twice that 
of sergeants. Among officers, men had five 
times as great a percentage of field grade 
officers as did women. 31 

It was Colonel Bandel's opinion that 
there was no reason why late-arriving 
Wacs should have had higher ratings than 
the men who arrived in the same years, 
and that Air Forces procedure "resulted 
in greater freedom in utilizing Wacs and 
men doing similar jobs," even though in 
fewer guaranteed ratings for women. 32 

Toward the end of the war, officers of 
AAF's Military Personnel Division be- 
came concerned about the fact that WAC 



26 Memo, Chief, Glassif and Rcpl Br AGO, for Dir 
WAC, 24 Apr 44. SPX 220.3 WAC (11-30-43) 
OC-H, i n WD WA C 201.6. 

'" See liable 5,| Appendix A, for division by occu- 
pational groups of total enlisted AAF Wacs in zone 
of the interior, 3 1 January 1 945. The complete break- 
down for both enlisted women and officers by SSN, 
race, and air command is given in the report cited 

In- win 

28 For a condensed summary of jobs held by AAF 
WAC of ficers in the United States, 31 January 45, see 
ITable 6j Appendix A. 

23 AAF Hq Office Instr 35-25, 25 Sep 43. 

10 AAF Ltr 121-48, 29 Mar 45. 

31 AAF Stat Digest, Tables 9, 10, and 15. 

32 AAF WAC Hist, p. 34, n. 1. 



294 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



officer grades included more first lieuten- 
ants and fewer second lieutenants than the 
men, and wished to forbid promotion of 
any more female second lieutenants. Air 
WAC Division killed this idea by pointing 
out that about 1,700 of the AAF's world- 
wide total of 1,900 WAC officers had come 
to it in 1943. After this, the WAC officer 
candidate school was virtually stopped, 
and while the supply of newly commis- 
sioned male second lieutenants continued, 
few more female second lieutenants were 
received. The WAC officers had received 
no more promotions than men who came 
to the AAF in 1943. Air WAC Division 
again pointed out that "separate" grades 
for women would have led to injustice. 

Overseas Assignment 

In 1944 several air commands received 
the hitherto unprecedented authority to 
move Wacs to overseas stations without 
reference either to the War Department or 
to AAF headquarters. 33 The AAF's Air 
Transport Command was the first to win 
permission to move its Wacs overseas as it 
moved its men, without reference to usual 
staging methods. 34 Air Transport Com- 
mand had soon picked up Wacs from do- 
mestic stations, staged them, and set them 
down in Hawaii, Alaska, Bermuda, Lab- 
rador, England, Scotland, Wales, France, 
Africa, and India. Army Airways Com- 
munications System and AAF Weather 
Wing followed suit, attaching their Wacs 
to any convenient ATC unit. The several 
thousand women in these units, which re- 
mained under the command of the Army 
Air Forces, were in addition to some seven 
thousand Wacs furnished higher head- 
quarters of combat air forces overseas.'" 

Such freedom of movement did not of 
course apply to combat units; AAF head- 



quarters was kept busy refusing the re- 
quests of fighter and bomber groups 
trained in the United States who desired 
to ship out complete with two or three 
borrowed Wacs to whom they had become 
accustomed. After the defeat of Germany 
the U.S. Strategic Air Force was given 
permission to ship out its Wacs as it 
pleased, in its program to swing the bulk 
of its air power to the Pacific. This was the 
only combat organization to receive such 
authority and only a few women were ever 
shipped out in this manner. 

Conclusion of Program 

The high point of the AAF WAC pro- 
gram was reached in January of 1945, 
with a peak strength of almost 40,000 
women. In Colonel Bandel's opinion there 
were few remaining difficulties in the em- 
ployment of womanpower which the AAF 
had not solved. 

Her final report listed only four remain- 
ing problems. One of these was the hous- 
ing situation. As a matter of economy, 
initial mistakes in design could never be 
corrected once barracks were built, al- 
though both AAF inspectors and surgeons 
repeatedly objected. It was found that per- 
manent employees like the Wacs suffered 
greatly in health and efficiency from being 
housed for two or three years in crowded 

" Granted 10 Jun 44. AAF WAC Hist, pp. 74-81. 

34 Granted November 1943, ahead of blanket au- 
thority cited in preceding note. First ATC unit over- 
seas was one to Hawaii, March 1944. 

35 WAC Pers with Air Forces Overseas, Jan 45, 
Table 28, AAF Stat Digest, 1946: 



European Theater 2,835 

Mediterranean 457 

Pacific Ocean Areas 2 

Far East Air Force 694 

China-Burma-India 287 

Air Transport Comd 2,755 

Other (AACS, Etc) 285 

Total 7,315 



THE ARMY AIR FORCES 



295 



and flimsy temporary barracks with their 
hand-fired coal stoves, designed primarily 
for transient combat trainees. Another 
unsolved problem was that of the selection 
of WAC officers. The AAF felt that the 
War Department system of sending all 
candidates to a school for WAC troop offi- 
cers was outdated, and that women should 
have been selected and trained as men 
were, in men's schools, except for those 
who would actually administer Wacs. 
Other unsolved problems were that of fric- 
tion with civilian women workers, and 
that of disputes over fraternization of offi- 
cers and enlisted personnel of opposite 
sexes; these could not be resolved within 



the limits of Army organization in World 
War II. 38 

None of these remaining problems was, 
in Colonel Bandel's opinion, a serious 
threat to the efficiency of the AAF WAC 
program. She concluded: 

There can be little doubt that women did 
contribute many critically needed adminis- 
trative and clerical skills — not generally pos- 
sessed by men — to the AAF at a time when 
there was a very great need for such skills. . . . 
The WAC program in the Air Forces during 
World War II was a part of the natural evolu- 
tion toward the full employment of a nation's 
manpower during a modern war. 37 

36 See Chs. jXXVl and IVVVTTj below. 
» AAF WAC Hist, pp. 94r, 96, 97. 



CHAPTER XVII 



The Army Ground Forces 



Although equal in echelon to the Army 
Air Forces, the Army Ground Forces 
offered a less favorable field for the em- 
ployment of wo manpower. 1 Ground 
Forces units were chiefly tactical in nature, 
depending upon the Army Service Forces 
for supply and other services. Except for 
its schools and replacement depots, the 
AGF had few permanent installations un- 
der its jurisdiction in the United States. 
There was some early debate within AGF 
headquarters as to whether Waacs could 
not be used to staff the rear echelons of 
separate corps, thus giving "a continuity of 
administration in the event a Corps is 
ordered overseas," but this idea was not 
approved. In general the WAAC was re- 
garded as part of the Services of Supply, 
even when a few units were attached for 
duty at AGF installations. 

It therefore came as an unexpected 
problem when, on 1 May 1943, the War 
Department formally assigned to AGF 
and other commands the units previously 
on loan from the ASF. The standard ASF 
Table of Organization units were not par- 
ticularly suitable for the needs of the AGF, 
since most routine services were performed 
for it by the ASF, and only highly skilled 
typists and stenographers were wanted. 

Upon her assignment as AGF WAC 
Officer during the period of conversion to 
Army status, Maj. Emily E. Davis visited 
all AGF WAC units and found that the 
only one with good morale was that at Fort 



Riley, which had been sent out after the 
end of the T/O system and thus fitted the 
needs of the station. Others suffered from 
malassignment and underutilization, and 
also had not received full uniform issue or 
been able to get salvage or repair of cloth- 
ing. Some units were found to lack ade- 
quate housing and dayroom space, and 
had no recreational or special services pro- 
gram. Two units were under the command 
of WAC officers whom Major Davis pro- 
nounced "very weak" and immediately 
replaced; in three months these com- 
manders had not made the most elemen- 
tary arrangements for the welfare of the 
units. 

For the remainder of the war the em- 
ployment of Wacs in the AGF increased 
slowly. Replacements for the 34 percent 
losses of the conversion period were not 
forthcoming until early 1944, and addi- 
tional requisitions were at first few. AGF 
headquarters voluntarily limited the num- 
ber of Wacs by refusing all requests from 
the District of Columbia or installations 
"which are near large cities where they 
can procure civilian personnel." Requests 
from installations such as the Desert 
Training Center were also disapproved as 
unsuitable. Negro Wacs were rejected, 
since it was believed that they could not 

1 This chapter draws heavily upon the AGF WAC 
Hist, by the AGF WAC Officer, Colonel Davis. AIL 
direct quotations in this chapter, unless otherwise in- 
dicated, are from this history. 




FIRST OFFICER EMILY E. DAVIS, right foreground, with Colonel Hobby and Colonel 
McCoskrie on a tour of Fort Des Moines in June 1943. 



be employed in sufficient numbers to 
justify a detachment unless the War De- 
partment reconsidered their use to replace 
civilians in the operation of kitchens, 
dining halls, and cafeterias. For these 
reasons, the total number of AGF Wacs 
was never to be very great, at its peak 
strength amounting to less than 2,000, one 
twentieth of that employed by the Air 
Forces or the Service Forces. 2 

Lt. Gol. Emily E. Davis remained the 
sole WAC representative in Headquarters, 
AGF. Although her responsibility was par- 
allel to that of the Air WAG Officer, 



smaller numbers of women were assigned 
to AGF, which never approved her request 
for an assistant in its own headquarters. At 
a later date a WAC staff director was 
assigned to the AGF's largest field com- 
mand, the Replacement and School Com- 
mand, and another to the Antiaircraft 
Command. 



Ltr, Hq AGF to CofS, 1 Apr 43. GNGCT 
320.2 WAAG. (2) For complete statistics on receipt of 
personnel by station by month, see AGF WAC Hist, 
Vol. II, App. XX. Peak strength in this chart appears 
as 1,950 women. See also liable 4 J Appendix A. 



THE ARMY GROUND FORCES 



299 



AGF WACJobs 

Wacs with the Army Ground Forces 
worked gradually into positions more 
diversified than the original assignments 
had promised. AGF requisitions continued 
to ask for women with a high degree of 
skill in some administrative or technical 
field, with the result that only 14 percent 
of its total enlisted women were in the two 
lowest AGCT classifications; the other 86 
percent were in the top three groups, with 
47 percent of enlisted women having the 
scores required of officers. These consid- 
erably surpassed the scores of Wacs in any 
other domestic command. A special ar- 
rangement was made whereby, if the AGF 
was accidentally assigned a Wac lacking 
in skill or aptitude, she was immediately 
reassigned to another command. 

These women gravitated naturally to- 
ward a station's more responsible posi- 
tions, especially since they were relatively 
more permanent employees than the en- 
listed men, not being subject to with- 
drawal for combat service. Wacs were 
finally assigned to every major training 
installation of the Army Ground Forces, 
both schools and replacement training 
centers: infantry, cavalry, field artillery, 
coast artillery, antiaircraft, tank destroyer, 
airborne, and armored force. They were 
also assigned to two overseas-replacement 
depots. Over 70 percent of the Wacs' jobs 
in these installations were clerical and ad- 
ministrative; others were technical, pro- 
fessional, mess, supply, or automotive. 3 



Type of Duty Percent 

Total 100.0 

Administrative and Clerical 72.0 

Automotive 8.9 

Technical and Professional 8.2 

Mess 5,4 

Supply 4.8 

Radio and Communications 0.7 



Replacement Depot 

One of the largest AGF WAC units was 
at the Ground Forces Replacement Depot, 
Fort Meade, Maryland, where over 400 
women were assigned. To handle the tre- 
mendous volume of overseas replacements, 
a "belt line" process was established, by 
which each man's records were passed 
down a line where each checker took care 
of a single item. This process resulted in 
extreme accuracy but extreme monotony; 
it was performed on a twenty-four-hour 
basis, in shifts of from eight to twelve 
hours, depending on the load. It was re- 
ported that "WAC personnel became 
proficient in this type of operation, and as 
general-service men were released for 
overseas duty, they became the section 
heads of many of these processing depart- 
ments." 

In addition, many Wacs were used in 
training regiments in clerical capacities. 
WAC tabulating machine operators were 
in great demand by the Machine Records 
Unit, so much so that some showing apti- 
tude were especially trained in the work, 
but the total number desired was never 
obtainable. Instead, many of the women 
recruited under the station-and-job plan 
with a promise of assignment to Fort 
Meade were so lacking in clerical aptitude 
as to be untrainable for the processing of 
papers, and 1 15 of them were used in the 
motor pool as dispatchers, drivers, me- 
chanics, and attendants. 

Antiaircraft Artillery School 

In the Antiaircraft Command Wacs 
performed a variety of duties on the firing 
ranges where trainees were taught the 

3 Complete list of installations is given in AGF 
WAC Hist, Vol. I, pp. 47-48. 



300 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



principles of antiaircraft defense. At some 
antiaircraft firing points the entire train- 
ing operation, with the exception of tech- 
nical supervision by male officers, was 
handled by enlisted women: WAC control 
tower operators kept the tow-target plane 
on the course, while other Wacs gave the 
fire signal over the field telephone, and 
WAC mathematicians computed the cor- 
rect angle of fire and the accuracy of fire. 

Other A GF Schools 

At the Field Artillery School, a few 
Wacs were used as control tower operators 
to guide liaison planes. At the Armored, 
Field Artillery, and Cavalry Schools, Wacs 
were employed as radio mechanics, taking 
care of records and requisitions involving 
radio equipment, and repairing and in- 
stalling radios in tanks, bantams, and 
other vehicles, both in camps and in 
bivouac areas. Other Wacs were radio op- 
erators and instructors in the Cavalry and 
Armored Schools, and in the communica- 
tions school of the Field Artillery School, 
training men in code sending and 
receiving. 

At the Parachute School, Fort Benning, 
Georgia, over one hundred women were 
utilized in the parachute rigging and 
maintenance sections. Women originally 
recruited for this work, under the station- 
and-job plan, were former textile mill 
workers and did not prove very apt, some 
40 percent being unable to complete the 
training, with the average female rigger 
being able to rig only six chutes daily, as 
compared to ten rigged by the average 
man. Women were not allowed to jump 
with the chutes they had packed, as men 
were required to do, on the grounds that 
this was not an essential part of the job for 
a woman, but were allowed to fly with 



paratrooper trainees and watch them jump 
with chutes the women had packed. After 
station-assignment recruiting was discon- 
tinued and the requirements raised, 
women developed greater proficiency in 
this work and ultimately were considered 
"equally qualified with male personnel in 
rigging and better qualified in main- 
tenance." 

Women served also at various stations 
in such varied jobs as proofreaders on 
technical manuals, as photographic tech- 
•nicians, as sewing machine operators in a 
book stitching shop, as translators for the 
preparation of language courses, and as 
motion picture projectionists in training 
classes. One woman, as chief clerk of a 
department, was responsible for keeping 
track of its officer and enlisted personnel 
and 300 trainees, for checking the contents 
of all incoming and outgoing papers, for 
the computation of rations needed, and for 
maintaining records of completion of 
qualification courses. Another, a classifi- 
cation clerk, assigned all male cadre re- 
turned from overseas. One was personal 
secretary to two generals and a colonel. 
Another secretary prepared reports and 
took all testimony concerning cases 
brought before a board of officers. 

Staff directors on field visits made a 
point of checking such job assignments 
against actual skills. While typists were 
usually well assigned, stenographers were 
frequently found to be dissatisfied, and 
staff directors reported, "The failure of 
staff officers to use stenographic ability 
persisted through the entire period of the 
war." Many complained of not being 
busy, saying, "I feel that the Wacs could 
handle much more work than is given 
them," or, "It is said there are five persons 
to each Army job and that statement 
seems believable." With these and a few 



THE ARMY GROUND FORCES 



301 



other exceptions, the classification of en- 
listed women was, by 1945, pronounced 
"excellent" by the staff director. 

Experiment With Mixed Tactical Units 

The only official experiment with mixed 
tactical units in the United States was the 
early one made with antiaircraft artillery 
units under the actual command of the 
Military District of Washington. This ex- 
periment was made in spite of the objec- 
tion of the Judge Advocate General that it 
would involve "assignment to combat 
units" and was thus probably illegal. 
However, the British experience in such 
mixed units had proved satisfactory, and 
the Antiaircraft Artillery (AAA) desired 
the action. 4 Civilian volunteers would 
otherwise have been required, and this in- 
volved difficulties of administration, dis- 
cipline, control, and efficiency. Also, as 
the Army Service Forces noted, "it takes 
about ten volunteers to take the place of 
one soldier." b 

No publicity was permitted on this 
project, partly because the unit was itself 
highly secret in nature, equipped with 
radar, height finders, fire directors, and 
other such apparatus, and partly lest 
WAAC recruiting should be harmed by 
mistaken notions that women were to fire 
guns or sleep in the men's barracks. The 
experiment actually offered little grounds 
for alarm, for the "tactical" unit in ques- 
tion appeared firmly rooted in the vicinity 
of Washington, D.C., and was "mixed" 
only during the working day, the Waacs 
enjoying their customary separate house- 
keeping at night. 

In accordance with General Marshall's 
verbal instructions, two WAAC com- 
panies, totaling 10 officers and over 200 
enrolled women, reported to the area in 



December 1942. With these, the AAA was 
directed to organize two composite bat- 
teries using women in at least 55 percent 
of the jobs, and to work out Tables of Or- 
ganization showing exactly which jobs in 
AAA batteries, battalions, and regiments 
could be held by women, and whether the 
whole idea was workable. 

The women concerned were carefully 
selected for their high AGCT test scores, 
although actually the AAA discovered 
that women of less ability could have per- 
formed certain routine jobs as well and felt 
less bored. They were never assigned a tac- 
tical mission, but did participate in the 
Eastern Defense Command's tactical prob- 
lem. The women were not assigned to fire 
guns, nor were they given small-arms 
training. They were not assigned to outly- 
ing searchlight positions because of the iso- 
lation and the fact that the public would 
have observed the experiment. They were 
assigned to operate various instruments 
and machines, as well as to perform clerical 
duties, and the entire range section was 
completely manned by Waacs. The AAA 
reported, "WAAC personnel exhibited an 
outstanding devotion to duty, willingness 
and ability to absorb and grasp technical 
information concerning the problems of 
maintenance and tactical disposition of all 
types of equipment." Little administrative 
difficulty was reported, although separate 
housing was of course required, and there 
were separate dayrooms for men and 
women plus one for mixed groups. 



4 Cable 1101, 12 Aug 42, Eisenhower for Marshall, 
replies to Cable 2890, Marshall for Eisenhower, and 
gives data on use of ATS in AAA mixed batteries. 
Handwritten Ind, CofS, directs information be sent 
to G-l, G-3, Mrs. Hobby, Brig Gen Thomas H. 
Green, Maj Gen John T. Lewis, CG MDW. CofS 
291.9. 

5 Memo, DCofAdm Serv for CG SOS, 18 Nov 42. 
SPAAS 320, Sp Coll DRB AGO. 



302 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



At the conclusion of the experiment 
some months later, a full report was ren- 
dered to the War Department as to the 
possibilities of using women in such duties. 
The report concluded: 

WAAC personnel can be used in perform- 
ing many of the tasks of the Antiaircraft Artil- 
lery. They are superior to men in all functions 
involving delicacy of manual dexterity, such 
as operation at the director, height finder, 
radar, and searchlight control systems. They 
perform routine repetitious tasks in a manner 
superior to men. , . . The morale of women 
used in the AAA was generally high due to 
the fact that they felt that they were making 
a direct contribution to the successful prose- 
cution of the war, 6 

As a result, the AAA requested that it be 
allowed to retain WAAC personnel and be 
given ten times more, to the extent of 103 
officers and 2,315 enrolled women. 

Since the need for antiaircraft protec- 
tion in the area had subsided, G-3 Divi- 
sion decided instead that the most 
profitable immediate use for Waacs was in 
overhead installations to replace combat- 
fit men. With Colonel Hobby's concur- 
rence, G-3 therefore directed that the 
AAA units be dissolved, their personnel 
reassigned, and records preserved to per- 
mit reactivation of such units should 
future need arise. This action was taken, 
over the protest of the AAA. Records were 
filed for future use, and G-3 Division con- 
cluded that "The experiment which has 
been conducted of employing WAAC per- 
sonnel in antiaircraft artillery units has 
demonstrated conclusively the practicabil- 
ity of using members of the Corps in that 
role." 7 

Problems of Full Integration 

Except in the one tactical unit, consid- 
erably more difficulty was encountered in 
achieving full integration of women into 



the Army Ground Forces than was the case 
in the AAF. From the enlisted women's 
viewpoint, the most visible distinction was 
the matter of insignia, in which it was the 
Ground Forces policy for women to 
wear WAC insignia instead of that which 
would have been worn by a man in the 
same assignment. 

A more important handicap to integra- 
tion, in the AGF staff director's opinion, 
was her inability to secure a merger of 
personnel allotments. Although allotments 
from the War Department no longer were 
divided into male and female, AGF head- 
quarters continued to divide them, setting 
aside for each WAC detachment the exact 
number of grades the old WAAC Table of 
Organization had specified. These were 
designed for an ordinary ASF unit with 
many unskilled workers, and were some- 
what modest for the average highly skilled 
AGF unit, allowing only 5 or 6 in each 
unit of 150 to hold one of the first three 
grades, and requiring about 80 to remain 
privates. These grades, however modest, 
were the sole property of the Wacs and 
were not interchangeable. Stations soon 
protested this lack of flexibility. The 
Armored Replacement Training Center 
wrote: 

When we first received this company it 
was felt that our women were not qualified 
for the ratings in competition with the men, 
and our staff officers desired to give the rat- 
ings to men, which of course, we could not 
do. Now, with our expansion, the reverse is 
true . . . there are 41 privates in the WAC 
detachment, and we feel that most of these 
would be T/5's if all our ratings were pooled 
and they were in direct competition with the 



8 MDW Narrative Rpt, 10 Jul 43. 324.5 (151st 
WAAC Tech Co). Cited in mimeographed history, 
The Military District of Washington in the War Years 
(194-2-1945), by William H. Cartwright, Jr. Copy in 
OCMH. 

7 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 7 Jul 43. WDGCT 29 1.9 
WAC. 



THE ARMY GROUND FORCES 



303 



men. . . . Eventually our most competent ad- 
ministrative personnel will undoubtedly be 
women; some thought should be given to this 
and the War Department should initiate 
some policy. 

The AGF WAC Officer therefore 
recommended that no separate grades be 
allotted for women, except cadre, but that 
grades be open to men and women alike. 
AGF's G-3 did not concur, and its system 
was continued throughout the war, with 
the modification that a revision of the 
WAC allotment could be obtained by any 
station upon formal request to Headquar- 
ters, AGF. Concerning this, AGF's Re- 
placement and School Command pro- 
tested that "such a recommendation 
requires extra paper work and loss of time. 
Normally, changes will be made only 
when a number of desired changes have 
accumulated, and individuals deserving 
of higher grades suffer from the lapse of 
time," AGF Replacement Depot 1 sent a 
similar protest. These protests from the 
field convinced AGF's G- 1 Division, but 
not G-3, which maintained: 

Since WAG personnel are in a more per- 
manent status . . . and since they are used in 
large proportions in administrative job as- 
signments where higher ratings tend to be 
concentrated, the proposed directive will 
tend to filter WAC personnel toward the 
higher grades and will exclude opportunity 
for male personnel returning from combat 
who may be qualified for such jobs. Although 
opportunity should be given all WAC per- 
sonnel to qualify for promotion, it is believed 
that the present system should be continued 
as a means of control. 

The separate allotments were therefore 
continued. This matter of ratings was a 
common cause of complaint among 
women. One wrote: 

Many Wacs have taken over positions 
vacated by enlisted men and are performing 
the duties well, but due to current directives 
cannot be promoted to the grade they are 



occupying. ... I believe that a Wac should be 
given the grade which belongs to the job. 

The actual result of this policy was the 
opposite of that expected. As large num- 
bers of highly rated men were returned 
from overseas, all male grade allotments 
were soon exceeded and male promotions 
were frozen, whereas Wacs, with a sepa- 
rate allotment and few WAC returnees, 
still received promotions. AGF Wacs soon 
came to have higher ratings than those in 
any other domestic command. Even so, 
the AGF WAC Officer continued to 
recommend that allotments be merged, 
saying that to promote AGF Wacs when 
men working with them in identical jobs 
could not be promoted "obviously had un- 
fair implications from a practical point of 
view in the field." 

Well after the end of the war, in Octo- 
ber of 1945, Colonel Davis finally obtained 
publication of her 1943 recommendations: 
"Grades for enlisted men and enlisted 
women, other than detachment overhead, 
will be interchangeable without reference 
to this headquarters." 

In the opinion of AGF staff directors, 
the failure to integrate womanpower, 
either in insignia or in grades, caused 
some loss of esprit among AGF Wacs. One 
enlisted woman wrote, "If the Army 
Ground Forces wants us to like it, why not 
give us an incentive?" Another said, "I am 
sorry to say that the girls in the other 
branches of the Service appear to have 
more to do, more responsible work, and 
are given more credit for the jobs they do." 
Like men serving under the same condi- 
tions, many objected to the more severe 
AGF discipline. One wrote, "I believe the 
Wacs in the AGF are disciplined far more 
than the Air Wacs and Service Force 
Wacs," and another added, "I cannot 
understand why we have less privileges 
and more severe discipline than the Air 



304 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



and Service Force Wacs. Restrictions con- 
cerning bedcheck, uniforms, dating offic- 
ers, are more rigidly enforced, bordering 
in some cases on downright pettiness and 
hair-splitting." 

One of the Ground Forces' character- 
istics that women found peculiarly objec- 
tionable was its policy of permitting very 
little transfer or rotation for women, and 
almost no overseas assignment. When the 
War Department directed the release of 
women for shipment overseas, the newest 
arrivals on a station were usually sent, 
partly because their low ratings fitted the 
requisitions, and partly because they were 
not as yet highly trained and indispen- 
sable. 

One woman wrote, "Wacs do not rotate 
every year as the enlisted men do; the 
coveted overseas assignments go to the 
lower-ranking women, so here we sit year 
in and year out, same post, same job, 
which might account for our sinking 
morale." Dozens of women supported this 
view; one added, "as a matter of fact, this 
detachment has begun to be known as the 
Lost Battalion." Many who had no desire 
to go overseas believed that rotation of 
some sort was desirable. One enlisted 
woman summarized the general lack of 
esprit by concluding that "the lack of 
imagination on the part of some of the 
Regular Army men and their failure to 
understand that morale is based, among 
other things, on recognition of ability and 
the proper reward for such ability, has 
undoubtedly played a big part in the 
failure of the AGF WAG recruiting drive." 

Effect of Manpower Shortages 

Toward the end of the war, there began 
to be evident in the AGF a noticeable im- 
provement in the integration of female 



military personnel. In part this change 
originated with the commanders of AGF 
installations in the United States at the 
time of severe personnel shortages. The 
manpower shortages of late 1943 and 1944 
found the Ground Forces in the worst per- 
sonnel situation of any major command, 
eventually requiring the emergency trans- 
fer of thousands of men from the Air 
Forces and Service Forces. At this time, 
and especially when the War Department 
required the shipment overseas of all gen- 
eral service men, many AGF stations 
began to show increased interest in obtain- 
ing WAC units. There was by this date 
little prospect of obtaining them, because 
of recruiting difficulties and increased 
competition from other commands. 

The War Department's decision was 
that incoming WAC recruits would be di- 
vided among the three major commands 
according to the number of requisitions on 
file from each; the AGF's requisitions 
being less than 3 percent of the total, only 
3 of every 100 women recruited were sent 
to AGF. This trickle was reduced still fur- 
ther when the War Department authorized 
branch recruiting, since the Army Ground 
Forces did not at first elect to recruit. In 
the first four months of 1944, the Ground 
Forces got only 20 branch recruits, as 
against the Air Forces 5,000; in addition, 
some 3,000 women enlisted without 
promise of a branch, and of these the AGF 
got only 3 percent, or about 90 women. 

The AGF considered the assignment of 
recruiters as wasteful, and turned to efforts 
to get more Wacs without expenditure. 
First, the War Department was persuaded 
to give the AGF some 100 Wacs left sur- 
plus when the Eastern Defense Command 
was inactivated. Next, in April of 1944, 
the AGF requested the War Department 
to give it 8 percent instead of 3 percent of 



THE ARMY GROUND FORCES 



305 



all recruits. This the War Department 
refused to do, since the increase would 
have meant a reduction in the shipments 
to other commands which had earlier 
demonstrated faith in Wacs and had made 
their housing plans accordingly. 8 

In July, the Army Ground Forces ap- 
pealed again to the General Staff for a 
"more equitable distribution," asking that 
it be given almost all of the general assign- 
ment recruits, which were then being di- 
vided among the three major commands. 
This was opposed by other commands 
and by The Adjutant General, who 
pointed out that it would penalize the 
AAF and ASF, which had sent out recruit- 
ing teams when the AGF had not. How- 
ever, it was agreed to grant the AGF a 
special favor, in recognition of its man- 
power shortages; it might recruit for job 
and branch in all service commands, 
whether it had a station there or not. 9 AGF 
now at last assigned small numbers of its 
own personnel to obtain recruits, and sent 
out station teams under the station-and- 
job recruiting system. The teams did not 
prove particularly adept at selection, and 
the desired type of recruit was not always 
obtained until after the station-assignment 
plan was ended. 

As AGF personnel shortages continued, 
the War Department was finally obliged 
to increase its quota from 3,690 to 7,500, 
thus giving it a larger share of incoming 
recruits. 10 In early 1945 it was necessary 
to give AGF a further concession: that of 
dropping the previous system of apportion- 
ment of recruits, and acceding to the 
Ground Forces' request not only for top 
priority on WAC recruits but for the first 
choice on the scarce clerical skills. By this 
means, stenographers, typists, and clerks 
were diverted from other commands and 
sent to fill the AGF quota. 



At the time of the Ground Forces' 
greatest crisis, the Battle of the Bulge, 
AGF WAC units were ordered withdrawn 
from its less active stations, such as those 
of the Antiaircraft Command, and rushed 
to stations where a heavy load was ex- 
pected, particularly to combat infantry 
replacement training installations. 11 

Wacs also were relied upon in the great 
overseas replacement depot at Fort 
Meade, where it was stated that the 
women now "formed the backbone of the 
administrative organization of the installa- 
tion, particularly since enlisted men in the 
headquarters were comparatively new 
because of the enforced rotation policies 
for men established by the War Depart- 
ment." Immediately after V-E Day, the 
women at Fort Meade were hastily trans- 
ferred across the country to Replacement 
Depot 4 at Camp Adair, Oregon, to meet 
the expected heavy shipments to the 
Pacific. When V-J Day halted the ex- 
pected rush of replacements westward 
and the west coast depot was inactivated, 
the Wacs were promptly shipped back to 
Replacement Depot 1, now at Camp 
Pickett, upon the insistence of the com- 
manding officer of that installation. 

At about this time the last major head- 
quarters refusing to use Wacs — Army 
Ground Forces headquarters in Wash- 



8 D/F, G-l for TAG through CofS, 31 May 44. See 
Incl and M/R. CofS 324.5 WAC. 

9 Memo, ASF for TAG, 1 1 Jul 44. SPGAC 341 Gen 
(7—1 1—44)— 69. History of proposal summarized here, 
and disapproved by SW, in SPAP 341 WAAC (2- 
26-43). 

10 AGF WAC Hist, Vol. I, pp. 42-46, gives history 
of allotments. 

11 By May of 1945, 42 percent of AGF Wacs were in 
Infantry installations, 21 percent at Overseas Re- 
placement Depots, and 30 percent divided among 
Armored, Field Artillery, Cavalry, and Tank De- 
stroyer Training installations. 



306 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



ington, D. C. — also yielded to the problem 
of the shortage of expert clerical help, and 
brought enlisted women into Washington. 
These women quickly became an integral 
part of a number of offices, so that the 
headquarters decided to retain them 
permanently and move them with it to 
Fort Monroe. 

The close of the war was to see a com- 
plete reversal of original policy, with the 
Army Ground Forces taking the lead in 



urging a postwar WAC component, and 
spearheading the demand for a Regular 
Army WAC. "The services of these women 
proved of direct assistance in winning the 
war," observed one staff study, "A far 
greater number could have been effec- 
tively employed." Another study alleged: 
"Economical, efficient, and spirited results 
are achieved in military installations 
where both male and female personnel are 
on duty." 



CHAPTER XVIII 



The Army Service Forces 



The Army's third major command, the 
Army Service Forces, had by mid-1944 
been assigned some 40 percent of the 
WAC's enlisted women, including train- 
ing center cadre. Upon the departure of 
Colonel Hobby's office for the General 
Staff level, the position of ASF WAC Offi- 
cer was established, parallel to that of 
Colonel Bandel in the Army Air Forces 
and Colonel Davis in the Army Ground 
Forces. The first and only incumbent was 
Lt. Col. Katherine R. Goodwin, formerly 
staff director of the First Service Com- 
mand and personnel officer in the Office 
of the Director WAC. Her office was lo- 
cated in that of the ASF Director of Per- 
sonnel, General Dalton, but she had ad- 
visory powers direct to General Somervell 
on nonpersonnel matters. Because of its 
late beginning and because the ASF did 
not desire separate statistical studies for 
women, Colonel Goodwin's office had 
only one assistant. 1 

In the field, each of the nine service 
commands and the Military District of 
Washington continued to have its own 
WAC staff director. For a time the staff di- 
rector's office was under the service com- 
mand's director of personnel, until later 
raised by an ASF circular to the immedi- 
ate office of the commanding general of 
the service command. In those commands 
which Colonel Goodwin considered the 
most successful in recruiting and public 
relations, notably the Third and Seventh, 



the staff director also conducted periodic 
conferences of WAC company officers and 
recruiters in the area in order to improve 
efficiency and spread the latest informa- 
tion on personnel practices. 2 

The numbers of Wacs assigned to each 
service command varied greatly, from 
scarcely more than 1,000 in the First to 
2,000 in the Eighth and more than 4,000 
in the Fourth, which operated a training 
center. In general these were organized in 
regular post headquarters companies 
which, although no longer required to be 
identical, contained similar clerical and 
administrative personnel to help staff the 
post. 3 

Enlisted 

Service Command Officers Women 

First 1 10 1,150 

Second 120 1,371 

Third 180 1,287 

Fourth 600 "4,600 

Fifth 65 1,500 

Sixth 170 1,140 

Seventh 480 a 2,800 

Eighth 240 2,190 

Ninth 300 1,500 

Military District of Washington 50 1,050 

a Including training center. 



1 Distribution, Versatility, and Excellence of Wacs 
Serving with ASF, a ! 0-page summary prepared by 
Colonel Goodwin a year before the end of the war. 
Atchd to Memo, Dir WAC for CG ASF, 23 Sep 44, 
WDWAC 341, in SPAP 341 WAC (11-6-43). Unless 
otherwise stated, referenc es are to this, by brief title, 
ASF WAC Summary. See iTable 4) Appendix A. 

- Interv with Lt Col Katherine Goodwin, 2 May 51. 

3 ASF WAC Summary. 



308 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 




LT. COL. KATHERINE R. GOODWIN (center) visits the Signal Corps photographic 
laboratory at Camp Hood, Texas, August 1944. 



Other Wacs were allotted directly to the 
various ASF technical services such as the 
Signal Corps, for duty on Class II installa- 
tions under the jurisdiction of the techni- 
cal service, although located within the 
service command. Each of these services 
ordinarily had a WAC staff director, and 
sometimes several, as in the case of the 
Transportation Corps and its various 
ports. The ASF administrative services, 
such as The Adjutant General's Depart- 
ment, seldom had staff directors or as- 
signed WAC personnel, since they had few 
if any Class II installations; personnel in 
their specialty was ordinarily assigned as 
part of post headquarters companies. 



In this far-flung organization, existing 
records gave little clue to the exact jobs 
filled by Wacs and the exact numbers of 
Wacs in each job. Wacs on Class II instal- 
lations, such as those of the Signal Corps, 
might accurately be assumed to be work- 
ing for that service, but not all were neces- 
sarily in communications duties. Similarly, 
Wacs in post headquarters companies 
might be working for the post headquar- 
ters, but they might also be in subofnces of 
the administrative services, such as the 
post judge advocate, or in Quartermaster 
Corps, Signal Corps, Medical Corps, or 
other technical work not under the tech- 
nical services allotment. 



THE ARMY SERVICE FORCES 



309 



Even though exact statistics thus were 
never gathered, it was known that the 
Army Service Forces, as its name implied, 
offered large numbers of noncombat jobs 
intrinsically suitable for women, and that 
Wacs at the height of the war had worked 
their way into a wide variety of them. 
Especially from the individual adminis- 
trative and technical services, some con- 
clusions could be obtained as to the rela- 
tive success and suitability of the duties. 

The Signal Corps 

The first of the Army Service Forces' 
agencies to request Wacs was, according 
to its own undisputed claims, the Signal 
Corps. 4 Even in World War I the Chief 
Signal Officer reported: 

Our experience in Paris with the untrained 
and undisciplined English-speaking French 
women operators and experience elsewhere 
with the willing but untrained men operators 
was almost disastrous. The remarkable 
change in the character of the service at Gen- 
eral Headquarters and other points when the 
American women operators took over was 
one of the features of the Signal Corps work 
of the times. 5 

In spite of this early enthusiasm, the 
Signal Corps experienced numerous de- 
lays and difficulties in launching a success- 
ful program to employ Waacs in World 
War II. In part this early delay resulted 
from a strong distrust of the Auxiliary 
status. In the earliest conferences the chief 
exponent of this view was Col. Henry L. P. 
King, Military Personnel Branch, Office 
of the Chief Signal Officer, who feared loss 
of trained personnel if the WAAC Director 
had command powers. In addition to 
seeking assignment and transfer control, 
the Signal Corps asked that the women 
wear Signal Corps insignia, that their 
units be designated Signal Corps and not 



WAAC, and that communications train- 
ing be given by the Signal Corps and not 
by WAAC training centers. 

Such proposals for integration were 
deemed by the War Department illegal 
under the Auxiliary status, with the excep- 
tion of the matter of technical training. 
WAAC Headquarters proved agreeable to 
abandoning its plans for a communica- 
tions specialists school at WAAC training 
centers in order that the Signal Corps 
might send qualified personnel to what- 
ever Signal Corps schools were indicated. 
The Director also gave reassurance that — 
as was later to be demonstrated — she 
would never move any such unit, once as- 
signed. At this, the Chief Signal Officer 
expressed in writing his appreciation of 
the concession and added: 

It is felt that as a result of the co-operation 
given ... by the Women's Army Auxiliary 
Corps, the way has been opened for the re- 
lease of needed enlisted men to field units 
and for a more extensive use of WAAC per- 
sonnel. 6 



* Unless otherwise specified, statements through 
1943 are from (1) Narrative OCSigO, Activities in 
Connection with WAAC or WAC Pers for Signal 
Corps Duty, October 1943, DRB AGO. Hereafter 
cited as SigC WAC Narrative. (Sec [Bibliographical | 
Note.) (2) Bound folder, WAAC Pers on Signal Corps 
Duty, Tab 1, Policy of CSigO Regarding WAAC Pers; 
loaned historian by Capt Jane Reeves, SigC WAC 
Stf Dir, 3 May 46. present location unknown. Here- 
after cited as SigC Stf Dir file. (3) Interviews with: 
Maj Walter F. McDonald, SigC, OCSigO; Col Donald 
H. Nelson, OCSigO, Maj James L. Clark, OCSigO; 
Mr. Bruce W. Quisenberry, PRO, OCSigO; Lt 
Norma J. Fisher, OCSigO; Maj Charlotte E. Rhodes, 
former CO 334 1st Sig Serv Co. Germany, and 17th 
Sig Co, Ft Myer, Va.; all on 19 Sep 49; Capt Barbara 
Rodes, WAC Stf Dir. G-2, 22 Mar 46. 

• 5 Rpt, CSigO to SW, 1919, extract in Memo, Chief 
MPD SigC for Adm Div SigC, 29 Sep 42. SigC 320.2 
WAC. 

* Memo, Brig Gen Charles M. Milliken. OCSigO, 
for Dir WAAC, 26 Oct 42. SPWA 320.2 (10-26-42), 
unnumbered folder, Signal Corps, G-l WD WAC 
files. 



310 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



Proceeding with enthusiasm, the Signal 
Corps not only requisitioned Waacs for its 
Class II installations, but requested that 
all service commands be directed to requi- 
sition Waacs in every one of certain listed 
communications duties under their juris- 
diction. Additional sweeping estimates 
were submitted to the Army Service 
Forces, as they had been periodically since 
the WAAC was organized, proposing to 
use women in literally every Signal Corps 
activity, from mixed tactical units to 
pigeon companies. 7 

The most important immediate pro- 
posal was that the WAAC aid in what 
came to be called the WIRES plan (Wom- 
en in Radio and Electrical Service). Cur- 
rently enrolled in Signal Corps schools 
were some 30,000 civilians, receiving free 
training and allowances during three- to 
six-month courses in radio and switch- 
board operation and related skills. Men in 
such courses were in the enlisted reserve 
and could be called to active duty upon 
successful graduation, but women gradu- 
ates were necessarily hired as civilians, 
with the possibility that once trained they 
would seek better-paid jobs elsewhere. Use 
of the WAAC inactive reserve thus ap- 
peared a logical solution, and was gener- 
ally agreeable to the women; a group at 
one school organized themselves as the first 
WIRES and appealed to Director Hobby 
to admit them. Upon the request of the 
Signal Corps, WAAC officers were dis- 
patched to make necessary arrangements. 8 

Unsuitable Organizations and Locations 

These extensive plans were shortly 
checked by the discovery that, while most 
Signal Corps jobs were perfectly suitable 
in themselves, they could not be given to 
Waacs without violation of numerous War 



Department policies on assignments for 
women. Since most Signal Corps jobs on 
Army posts were performed by civilians, 
the Signal Corps informed the Director 
that it would be necessary to rescind the 
ruling that Waacs would not replace civil- 
ians. There were also about 1,500 Signal 
Corp enlisted men who might have been 
replaced, but these were in small scattered 
detachments, the majority at stations 
where no WAAC unit existed. Therefore, 
the Signal Corps also asked the War De- 
partment to rescind the ruling that en- 
listed women would not be sent to any sta- 
tion without a WAAC barracks and com- 
mander for their adequate housing, 
supply, and protection. 9 

Both of these efforts were unsuccessful, 
since neither of these policies was ever to 
be relaxed by the War Department. An- 
other point of dispute was the fact that 
Waacs, as civilians, could be assigned only 
to a WAAC unit and not to the Signal 
Corps; thus, the assignment of Signal- 
trained Waacs was a prerogative of the 
post commander and not the Signal 
Corps, and the WAAC Director could not 
guarantee their correct assignment. 

On the other hand, the Signal Corps in- 
sisted that the WAAC must "guarantee 
them assignment on a communications 
basis and none other," and Colonel King 
wrote, "Tell the WAAC that since Signal 

7 (1) Stf Study, Maj J. K. Cunningham for G-l, 4 
Nov 42. SPGAM 320.2 WAAC (9-15-42), in WD 
G-l 321 WAG (2) Memo, CG ASF for CofS USA, 17 
Jim 42. WD G-l 320.2 WAC (6-12-42), Tab A. 

8 (1) WDBPR Press Release, 9 Jan 43. (2) Ltr, Miss 
Stella Gunning, Pres WIRES, Trinidad Junior 
College, Colo., to Dir WAAC, 20 Nov 42, with Ind, 
Dir WAC to SigC. SigC 320.2 WAAC. 

a (1) Memo, Maj. W. K. St, Clair, MPD OCSigO, 
for Chief MPB, 14 Oct 44. SPSMP 320.2 WAAC, in 
unnumbered folder, Signal Corps, WAC files. (2) 
Memo, Chief MPB OCSigO for Actg CSigO, 19 Oct 
42, SigC 320.2 WAC. (3) R&W Slip, Action 1. SigC 
Aux Br for MPD SigC, 9 Jul 42. SigC 320.2 WAAC. 



THE ARMY SERVICE FORCES 



311 



Corps money is being used to train Wires 
we mean to keep same either as civil serv- 
ice employees or Wacks." 10 

Colonel King therefore returned to 
efforts to secure transfer of command from 
the Director to the Signal Corps, in the 
belief that the Signal Corps could then 
assign Waacs to replace civilians and to 
stations without WAAC companies. He 
wrote memoranda and made personal 
visits to most of the other technical and 
administrative services, urging their con- 
certed action against the War Department 
policies involved. Securing the agreement 
of some, and noncommittal replies from 
others, he then attempted to call an ASF 
conference to force the issue. 11 

The Army Service Forces did not com- 
ply with the request, since it was at the 
time awaiting General Staff decisions as 
to the Corps' future status and size, and 
was unable to give the Signal Corps much 
more satisfaction than had WAAC Head- 
quarters, At this time the Signal Corps 
noted, "The situation became so compli- 
cated that it was not known how requisi- 
tions were to be submitted, or how to pro- 
cure Waacs for any type of installation 
under the Chief Signal Officer." 13 

Such squabbles over maximum replace- 
ment proved doubly futile, in that the 
numbers of WAAC recruits were never to 
be such as to warrant extension of employ- 
ment to questionable locations or to 
replace civilians. The immediate result 
was that the Signal Corps delayed in 
opening its schools to Waacs, the WIRES 
plan lagged for some six months without 
action, and the Signal Corps established 
only the schools already agreed upon — 
three radio schools at civilian institutions, 
to provide radio operators for the AAF. 

Thus, the first WAAC communications 
specialists to reach the field went in post 



headquarters units and — other than radio 
operators — without Army training in Sig- 
nal skills, relying wholly upon their civil- 
ian background. Recruiters continued to 
accept volunteers in Signal skills, and 
training centers to send them out, without 
much knowledge of actual needs. 13 

Signal Duties in the Field 

Among the first communications spe- 
cialists to reach the field were the bilingual 
telephone operators in the first overseas 
unit, which reached North Africa in Jan- 
uary of 1943. Two WAAC officers also 
went to the Eighth Air Force in England, 
even before arrival of the European thea- 
ter staff director, to plan for Signal Corps 
Waacs in that command. A considerable 
percentage of the first WAAC unit to 
reach England consisted of telephone op- 
erators and other communications per- 
sonnel, sent with the approval of the Chief 
Signal Officer but without Army technical 
training. 

At about this time, the first units began 
to reach the Signal Corps' own installa- 
tions in the United States. First to arrive, 



10 (1) Comments to R&W Sheet, MPD OCSigO to 
Chief, 17 Nov 42; (2) R&W Sheet, Entry 1, Capt 
Kenneth E. BeLieu to Col King, 8 Dec 42. SigC 320.2 
WAAC. 

11 Ltrs, Chief MPB OCSigO to Chiefs of Mil Br, 
CE, Ord Dept, 10 Nov 42, with incl; replies by 1st 
Inds. SigC 320.2 WAAC. 

'- SigC WAC Narrative; also R&W Slip, Capt 
BeLieu. MPB OCSigO for Chief, 9 Dec 42. SigC 320.2 
WAAC. 

13 (1) Story of further WIRES planning: Stf Study, 
Capt BeLieu, MPB OCSigO, 15 Dec 42, with cover- 
ing memos. SigC 322 WAC 1943. Memo, 2d O M. 
McCull for Dir WAAC, 5 Jan 43. Unnumbered folder, 
Signal Corps, WAC files. R&W Slip, Entry 1, Maj 
John W. Ramsey, SigC, for Exec OCSigO, 6 Jan 43. 
SigC 322 WAC 1943. Memo, 2d Os Brainerd and 
McCull for Dir WAAC, 1 1 Feb 43, with Incl and Inds. 
Unnumbered folder, Signal Corps, WAC files. (2) Two 
WDBPR Press Releases, 10 Dec 42, and 14 Apr 43. 



312 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



in March of 1943, were units assigned to 
Camp Crowder, Missouri, which by the 
end of the WAAC totaled some 489 en- 
rolled women and 100 officers. Another 
unit under Signal Corps control went to 
Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, in June, and 
still others were on requisition. However, 
most women in these units were not tech- 
nical specialists, but clerical and overhead 
workers to aid in running the schools. 14 

From the first there was no doubt of 
these units' success in the assigned duties. 
In Allied Headquarters in North Africa, 
the assistant chief signal officer stated: 

The manner in which they picked up the 
work was outstanding. . . . Had we had 
enough of them, we could have used them to 
operate all our fixed communications instal- 
lations — telephones and telegraph — through- 
out the rear areas. Every one . . . released 
some man for Signal Corps duty up in the 
combat zone. 

The former chief signal officer of the AAF 
in North Africa added : 

Don't tell me a woman can't keep a secret. 
Why, their own company commander 
doesn't even know where the board is lo- 
cated — we've tested the girls again and 
again. 15 

The Chief Signal Officer, Maj. Gen. 
Dawson Olmstead, on a visit to the area, 
was informed by the theater commander 
that approximately 1,300 more Signal 
Corps Waacs in ten different specialties 
would be required if obtainable. The same 
good reports were received from the Euro- 
pean theater, where, after a one-week in- 
doctrination course, 100 WAAC telephone 
operators were assigned to operate multi- 
ple switchboards at five command head- 
quarters. The officer in charge reported, 
"Very soon I received praise of the im- 
proved service, as the good results were 
noticed almost immediately." 16 



Another early success was the participa- 
tion of twenty-nine WAC telephone op- 
erators in the Quebec Conference in 
August of 1943. Rushed from train to 
switchboard, the women were on continu- 
ous duty for eighteen hours and doubled 
as secretaries and stenographers when a 
shortage of these occurred. After seven- 
teen days of secret duty, each member 
received an individual commendation. 
Wacs also served successfully on the 
switchboards at the Cairo Conference and 
the Potsdam Conference. 17 

Requests from Signal officers in the 
United States continued to indicate an 
urgent need for more Waacs, since current 
directives required release of their general 
service men. Civilian replacements were 
scarce, and available limited service men 
often were unsuitable. 18 In general such 
requests also indicated a desire for Signal 
Corps technical training for the women. In 
England the using agencies, desiring tele- 
typists, had been obliged to train WAAC 
typists in the theater, which they protested 
was a task more properly assumed by the 
Signal Corps in the United States. Studies 
showed that women could, with training, 
fill seventy-eight different Signal Corps 
jobs. Therefore, in May of 1943, Brig. Gen. 
Henry L. P. King's successor, Col. Duncan 
Hodges, put the long-delayed WIRES plan 
into effect. The women were to be trained 
first in Signal Corps duties in an inactive 
WAAC status, and then sent to basic 
training. Objectives were set at some 2,000 



14 SigC Stf Dir file. 

15 The WAC in the SigC, Speec h by Col Oveta 
Culp Hobby. SigC file, OCMH. See t'h. XX,l hclow ; 
for North African Theater of Operations details. 

16 Appendix to SigC WAC Narrative. 

17 (1) Ibid. (2) Speech cited n. 15. (3) Interv with 
Capt Jane Reeves.SigC WAC Stf Dir, 3 May 46. 

18 Ltr, Post SigO, Ft Bliss, Texas, to Chief MPB 
OCSigO. SigC 322 WAC 1943. 



QUEBEC CONFERENCE, AUGUST 1943 



314 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



women, the first of whom reported in late 
May to a training course at the State 
Teachers' College at Livingston, Alabama, 
with eleven other schools scheduled for 
later opening. 19 

Effect of Army Status 

The Signal Corps was highly pleased by 
the WAC's new Army status and the sys- 
tem of assignment, instead of attachment, 
to the using command. Signal Corps Wacs 
could now be assigned to the signal service 
company and not to the post, while the 
simultaneous multiplication of WAC units 
in the field made it possible to attach these 
women to existing companies in adequate 
numbers without violating War Depart- 
ment housing policy. On the other hand, 
Army status wrecked plans for WIRES 
training, since the new WAC legislation 
provided for no inactive reserve compo- 
nent. A mere 276 women were already in 
schools; these were given a choice of dis- 
charge or enlistment, and all enlisted. 

The Signal Corps immediately began to 
seek some other system of earmarking ac- 
ceptable recruits in order to retain Signal 
Corps control of qualified women during 
their basic training. For this purpose, the 
newly devised plan for branch recruiting 
appeared made to order, and it was with 
some disappointment that the Signal 
Corps received the Army Service Forces' 
decision not to join the AAF in branch 
recruiting at this time. The disappoint- 
ment was alleviated within a few months 
by the authorization for station-and-job 
recruiting, which achieved virtually the 
same result. Under this plan, women re- 
ceived basic training first and then re- 
ported to the Signal Corps for either 
immediate assignment or specialist train- 
ing. 20 



Some difficulty in obtaining recruits, 
even with the station-and-job promise, 
was caused by the high requirements of 
the Signal Corps. Women for attendance 
at the three radio operators schools were re- 
quired to have near-officer qualifications: 
AGCT scores of 100 for radio operators 
and 110 for repairmen, as well as good 
scores on the radio operator's aptitude or 
mechanical aptitude tests. 

By September of 1943 some 1,750 
women had been trained, chiefly for the 
Air Forces, and the schools were discon- 
tinued. Thereafter the Signal Corps gen- 
erally accepted only women with high 
AGCT scores as well as civilian skill "suf- 
ficient to qualify them for assignment with 
only nominal on-the-job indoctrination in 
Army procedure." Thus, women to be 
trained as tabulating machine operators 
were required to have clerical skill and 
an AGCT score in Grade III or better; 
women to be key punch operators re- 
quired the same plus average typing 
speed; cryptographic clerks needed officer 
qualifications — an AGCT score in Grade 
I or II plus good education and mathe- 
matics or language background. Full 
civilian training in their fields was re- 
quired of radio operators, radio and elec- 
trical repairmen, telephone operators, 
teletypewriter operators, draftsmen, and 
various photographic experts. 

Such highly qualified personnel was not 
only hard to find, but the subject of com- 
petition from other agencies, particularly 
the WAVES, which offered officer status 

"* ( 1) Appendix cited [n~T^] (2) Stf study cited n. 
I 1 3(11. (3) Memo, Col Ja mes S. Willis, SigC for Brig 
GerTFrank C. Meade, OCSigO, 17 May 43. SigC 322 
WAC. (4) WDBPR Press Releases, 1 1 and 21 May 43. 

20 ( 1 ) Ltr, Hq AAF to AACS, 3 1 Jul 44, and incls. 
WD G-l 220.3 WAC (8-7-44). (2) SigC WAC 
Narrative. (3) Memo. Dir MPD ASF for Dir Pers ASF, 
26 Oct 43. SPAP 34 1 WAAC (2-26-43). 



THE ARMY SERVICE FORCES 



315 



to cryptographers and other specialists. By 
June of 1944 the Office of the Chief Signal 
Officer was still highly discontented with 
the returns from station-and-job recruit- 
ing, which had produced Wacs only to the 
extent of some 1,100, or about 9 percent of 
the strength of the Signal Corps instead of 
the 16 percent that it had been author- 
ized. 21 

Signal Corps Training 

With a few exceptions, the Signal Corps 
did not find it necessary to give specialist 
training to the women who reported to it. 
It was stated that "substantial" Signal 
Corps classes, chiefly for overseas ship- 
ment, were conducted at Fort Monmouth 
and at Camp Crowder, but these were 
chiefly refresher courses in Army proce- 
dure for already-qualified women. For 
skills scarce or nonexistent in civilian life, 
such as cryptographer, classes were 
eventually held at Fort Monmouth. In 
general it was reported that women could 
master Signal training without alteration 
in course content, and presented no prob- 
lems except in the matter of housing. Tt 

Only one training difficulty was re- 
ported, that concerning the first crypto- 
graphic school. In the early months of this 
course, the officer in charge reported: 

The WAC personnel we have received so 
far are almost without exception woefully 
uninformed about the personalities, the 
geography, and the materiel of the war. It is 
also evident that their intelligence, on the 
average, is decidedly inferior to the men they 
are replacing. 

He asked that personnel be better selected 
according to prescribed standards: officer 
AGCT score (1 10 or better), wide vocabu- 
laries, technical skill, and knowledge of 
world events, and that they be chosen from 
among teachers in higher grades, librar- 



ians, editors, authors, and similar occupa- 
tions. "They are not likely to be found 
among sales clerks, packers, restaurant 
employees, machine tool operators, beauty 
operators, and music teachers." 23 

With higher WAC enrollment stand- 
ards, higher-grade personnel became more 
readily available. With the virtual cessa- 
tion of the WAC Officer Candidate 
School at a time when the Signal Corps 
Officer Candidate School still received 
large quotas, it became still easier to get 
women of officer qualifications but en- 
listed status. Final reports indicated good 
results in training female cryptographers, 
and the instructor at Fort Monmouth re- 
ported that the women "far exceeded 
expectations" and could "hold their own 
with the best students." 24 Some WAC 
supervisors were of the opinion that cryp- 
tography would prove the most important 
future use for Signal Corps Wacs in occu- 
pied areas, since women did not fraternize 
with enemy nationals to the extent that 
men did, and were therefore less apt to 
betray secrets inadvertently. 

Signal Corps Jobs 

One of the first and most important as- 
signments of Signal Corps Wacs was that 
in the War Department Signal Center in 
Washington, called "the world's most im- 

21 (1) Speech cited |n. 15j (2) Quotation from Ltr, 
TAG for six SvCs, 25 Mar 44. SPX 341 WAC 
(3-22-44) PR-I. (3) WD Cir 340, 29 Dec 43. (4) 
Memo, Chief Pers and Tng Serv, OCSigO, for CG 
ASF, 7 Jun 44. SPMSP 320.2 WAC. in SigC 322 
WAC. 

22 (1) WDBPR Press Release, Enlistment. (2) R&W 
Slip, Maj John W. Ramsey, SigC, for Exec OCSigO, 
6 Jan 43. SigC 322 WAC. 

23 Memo, Lt Col Matthew G. Jones, SigC, OIC 
Code Cen, for Capt Louis F. Fuchs, 20 Jan 44. Un- 
numbered files of Career Management Br, OCSigO. 

24 The SigC Message, Ft Monmouth, N. J., July 21, 
1944, p. 2. 



316 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



portant communications center," 25 and 
hub of the Army's entire wire, radio, and 
cable system. With its outlying transmit- 
ting, receiving, and operating installations 
in the vicinity, it made up station WAR, 
in immediate contact by radio with all 
theaters and by land-line circuits with 
every major installation in the United 
States. Wacs for this service met the high- 
est of intelligence and aptitude tests, and 
their loyalty records were minutely in- 
vestigated. With the first assignment of a 
few Wacs to this work, the Chief Signal 
Officer, Maj. Gen. Harry C. Ingles, re- 
ported "an immediate improvement. . . . 
The loyalty and application to duty of 
these Waacs created an example which 
resulted in a noticeable increase in pro- 
duction." 26 By the end of 1944, some 235 
Wacs were employed, chiefly in teletype 
operation, including radioteletype, and 
transmission and relay of messages trans- 
lated into perforated tape on highspeed 
perforators. The chief of the Army Com- 
munications Service, Maj. Gen. Frank 
Stoner, stated, "We have found the Wacs 
conscientious, efficient, and dependable 
. . . thoroughly capable of filling many 
positions which formerly required trained 
men." 27 

The 2d Signal Service Battalion, which 
was under G-2 Division of the War De- 
partment for operations, employed some 
1,000 Wacs at its stations at Arlington 
Hall, Vint Hill, and Two Rock Ranch. In 
general the secret work was routine, noisy, 
but of a nature requiring perfection in de- 
tail. The WAC staff director reported: 

It was proven over and over again that 
women were far better equipped than men 
for routine but detailed work. They were not 
qualified for highly technical jobs in most 
cases, but were qualified for routine research 
and for specialists' jobs such as teletype and 
radio operator. 



About fifty women were also assigned to 
the battalion's Miami detachment, which 
distinguished itself chiefly by attempting 
to operate with a male commander for the 
WAC unit, in violation of War Depart- 
ment regulations, to be found out only 
when improper administration resulted 
and was investigated. 28 

Other Signal Corps stations also em- 
ployed appreciable numbers of Wacs. The 
Eastern Signal Corps Training Center at 
Fort Monmouth employed an eventual 
total of about 300, chiefly clerical and ad- 
ministrative personnel to run the center. 29 
The Holabird Signal Depot near Balti- 
more employed some 100 women for simi- 
lar duties, and a quota of 75 was allotted 
to the Army Pictorial Service and Signal 
Corps Photographic Center on Long 
Island, for work in film libraries and 
laboratories. 30 

The average Army post in service or air 
commands also employed a few Signal 
Corps Wacs, although in lesser numbers 
than enlisted men and civilians. For ex- 
ample, the staff of the Signal Corps office 
at Fort McClellan, Alabama, included 3 
officers, 8 enlisted men, 5 enlisted women, 
and 55 civilians. All positions appeared to 



21 WDBPR Press Release, Wacs in the Signal Cen- 
ter; in Washington Post, November 12, 1944, and Army 
Times, December 16, 1944. 

26 Ltr, Gen Ingles to Col Hobby, 12 July 43. WAAC 
file and SigC 322 WAC. 

27 Release cited n. 25. 

28 (1) Interv with Capt Barbara Rodes, WAC Stf 
Dir G-2 WD, 22 Mar 46. (2) WDBPR Press Release, 
Enlistment. (3) Memo, Dir Pers ASF for CSigO, 6 
Dec 44. SPAP 320.2 WAC. 

2S M/R, sub: Fid Trip to Ft Monmouth; also R&W 
Slip, MPB OCSigO for Pers and Tng Serv, 15 Jul 43. 
Folder, WAC Surveys, unnumbered files of SigC 
Career Management Br. 

30 WDBPR Press Release, Enlistment. (2) Interv 
with Capt Jane Reeves, SigC WAC Stf Dir, 3 May 46. 
(3) Memo, MPB OCSigO for CG SigC Photographic 
Cen, Long Island, 26 July 43. SigC 320.2 WAAC. 



THE ARMY SERVICE FORCES 



317 



be essentially civilian in nature. The ex- 
perience of WAC training centers, where 
Wacs necessarily composed most of the 
staff of the post signal office, indicated that 
Wacs could if necessary perform most of 
the Signal duties on an Army post. The 
question as to whether all or any of such 
jobs required military status was a tech- 
nical one for higher authorities, but from 
the WAC viewpoint either all-WAC or all- 
civilian offices were preferable to mixed 
ones, which spotlighted differences in pay 
and privileges. 31 

Officer Employment 

Employment of officers was in general 
seldom as efficient as that of enlisted 
women. Both in the United States and 
overseas the Signal Corps showed a pro- 
pensity for assigning women officers to 
secretarial and similar duties scarcely re- 
quiring an officer's training. Eventually 
three WAC officers were allowed to attend 
the G-2 school, with the promise that if all 
graduated in the top 10 percent more 
Wacs would be accepted; all did. Several 
WAC officers also attended the three- 
month Advanced Radio Communications 
School at Arlington Hall and the Signal 
Corps Supply School at Camp Holabird. 32 

Signal Corps Jobs Overseas 

Extensive employment of Signal Corps 
Wacs, both officer and enlisted, was made 
in all overseas theaters, although not to 
the extent that the Signal Corps desired, 
Brig. Gen. Jerry V. Matejka, the new head 
of Signal Corps personnel, complained: 

Substantial requirements for Wacs on Sig- 
nal Corps duty have existed in the various 
theaters, yet the furnishing of WAC person- 
nel has been either retarded or abandoned 



because of apparent lack of the same co-or- 
dination of interested agencies in the War 
Department as is applied to furnishing en- 
listed men as fillers and replacements. 33 

Some measure of the difficulty appeared 
due to the Signal Corps' own reluctance to 
part with Wacs on its stations in the 
United States. Thus, when requests from 
the European theater for a WAC signal 
service battalion of approximately 550 
Wacs were approved by Operations Divi- 
sion, War Department General Staff, the 
Army Service Forces protested that male 
personnel should be sent in order to avoid 
disrupting the work of field stations using 
trained Wacs on key jobs. On Operations 
Division's insistence the unit was author- 
ized for activation in the theater, but with 
the requirement that 200 of the Wacs be 
supplied by the theater. 34 Even when 
trained radio operators were found malas- 
signed as clerks on Signal Corps installa- 
tions in the United States, the Chief Signal 
Officer refused to release them for radio 
work overseas. 35 General Matejka further 
remarked that "use in overhead installa- 
tions has been disrupted by the with- 
drawal of WAC personnel for overseas." 36 
In spite of the alleged difficulty of get- 
ting Signal-trained women for overseas 
duty, most overseas theaters by the end of 
the war had acquired relatively large 

31 (1) The McClellan Cycle, April 13, 1945, "SigC 
Job Big One on Post." (2) Press Release, 2d WAC Tng 
Cen, 1 Jul 43. 

32 (1) See overseas chapters. (2) Intervs cited j n. 4~| 
(3) Memo, Chief Pers and Tng Serv OCSigO for 
CSigO, 23 Sep 44. SPMSP 320.2 WAC, in SigC 322 
WAC. 

33 Memo cited |n. 21(4")] 

34 Memo, Exec, G-l Div for G-l, 12 Oct 44; 
Memo, "H.E.K." for Maj Gen Stephen C. Henry, 
G-l, 18 Oct 44. WD G-l 322 WAC. 

35 Memo, CofT for CG ASF, 30 Sep 44, SPTPM 
220.3 WAC; with 2d Ind from CSigO and 3d from 
MPD ASF, SPG AC 210.3 WAC. 

3fi Memo cited j n. 21(4)] 



318 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



numbers, many trained in the theater. 
Some one third of all Wacs in the Mediter- 
ranean theater, or about 700 women, were 
estimated to be employed on communica- 
tions duties — a percentage notably higher 
than that achieved in the United States. 37 
In Europe, the 3341st Signal Service Bat- 
talion eventually reached a peak strength 
of about 28 officers and 738 enlisted 
women, and in Paris its women were em- 
ployed in every department of what 
claimed to be "the largest message center 
in the world . . . with the exception of 
Washington, D. C." 34 Other units also 
contained some Signal Corps personnel, 
which brought the number in Europe to an 
estimated one fourth of the theater's WAC 
strength, or some 1,700 women. The 
Pacific theater reported that only about 3 
percent of its Wacs, or 150 women, were 
in communications work, including secret 
duties with the Signal Intelligence Section. 
Lesser numbers were also used in smaller 
theaters. 39 

Peak of Employment 

In September of 1944, some months be- 
fore the WAC reached its peak strength, 
the Chief Signal Officer estimated that 
there were about 1 ,500 enlisted women at 
six installations under his own jurisdiction, 
or some 16 percent of the total enlisted 
strength. This, he believed, exceeded all 
other technical services in percentage of 
replacement with the possible exception of 
the Chemical Warfare Service. In addi- 
tion, there were 236 enlisted women in the 
War Department Signal Center, and more 
than 700 performing Signal Corps duties 
in the service commands. To this could be 
added at least 1,700 in Europe, 700 in 
Italy, and 150 in the Pacific. It thus ap- 
peared likely that Wacs on Signal Corps 



duties totaled at least 5,000, some 5 per- 
cent of the WAC strength. 40 

The general job groupings for Wacs, at 
least in the United States, were estimated 
by the Chief Signal Officer to include: 

Percent 

Signal Corps Technical Specialists 63 

Administrative and Clerical 25 

Mess and Motor Pool Personnel 9 

Miscellaneous 3 



Special Problems of Signal Corps Wacs 

In spite of such wide employment and 
consistent success on Signal Corps duties, 
it was evident by the end of the war that in 
employing women the Signal Corps faced 
several problems. The women described 
most Signal Corps technical jobs as 
"nerve-wracking"; after a few months 
they tended to become a nightmare of 
beeping earphones, clicking keys, or clat- 
tering machinery. A WAC inspector 
reported: 

Severe nervous strain was imposed by the 
necessity for constant attention ... no thought 
was required for much of it, yet the worker 
did not dare to let the work become auto- 
matic, as one slip wrecked everything, and 
the fear of costing men's lives was always 
with them. 41 



37 For details, see r.h XX} below. 

38 (1) Press Release, Hq ComZ ETO, Receipt No. 
92782, 10 Jul 45. (2) Interv with Captjane Reeves, 
SigC WAC Stf Dir, 3 May 46. (3) M/R, 9 Oct 44, sub: 
Summary of Radiograms on WAC Sig Serv Bn for 
ETO. MTD OCSigO 322 WAC Sig Serv Bn. (4) Ltr, 
CSigO to Dir WAC 5 Ma y 49. PRO file, OCSigO. 

3S See Chs. lXXJ lXXIll. b elow. 

>" (1) Memo cite d n. 2U4j (2) Memo cited |n. 32(3l 
Discussions of WAC staff officers' opinions are 
based on: (1) Interv with Capt Barbara Rodes, WAC 
Stf Dir G- 2 WD, 22 Mar 46. (2) Intervs with Lt. Col 
Dorothea A. Coleman, WAC Stf Dir, NAT O and 
MTO , 21 Jan and 8 Feb 46. (3) SigC refs in Chs jXXJ 
IXXIIII below. (4) Intervs cited ln. 4(3)1 



THE ARMY SERVICE FORCES 



319 



Added to this was the ever-present strain 
of keeping security, and sometimes the 
knowledge that the operator, alone with a 
few of the Army's top authorities, shared 
secrets in which a slip of the tongue in 
public could cost the lives of hundreds of 
soldiers. 

Most Signal duties also involved shift- 
work, which constantly rotated so that 
regular sleeping and eating habits were 
impossible. British inspectors had pointed 
out long before the WAC was formed: 

A policy is present in the service of work- 
ing watches or shifts with irregular hours of 
duty ... it should have been known by now 
that the irregular rhythm of working hours 
is injurious to health. 42 

WAC inspectors repeatedly recommended 
that shift changes be less frequent than the 
customary two weeks, but this was no- 
where possible under established Signal 
Corps policies. On ordinary posts the 
handful of Signal Corps Wacs was obliged 
to try to sleep at odd hours while barracks- 
mates engaged in normal activities. On 
all-Signal Corps stations, company com- 
manders attempted to reserve one build- 
ing for each shift, a move which seldom 
proved practicable since women worked in 
different offices on different schedules. At 
only one station, Arlington Hall, was some 
measure of relief achieved by the use of 
cubicle housing, four women to a cubicle. 
One WAC adviser noted : 

One of our biggest problems was that of 
shift workers ... we had to watch their health 
carefully. There was always the danger of 
emotional upsets caused by difficult sleeping 
arrangements. 

The company commander's usual ef- 
forts to provide feminine-type sports, 
recreation, orientation, or even hot food 
and sympathetic counsel were often 
thwarted by the women's peculiar work- 



ing hours and by the impossibility of keep- 
ing cadre on 24-hour duty. 

In addition, at most stations the short- 
age of Signal Corps personnel was such 
that no leaves, furloughs, or passes were 
possible for months. WAC advisers recom- 
mended, without effect, that "it is most 
important that officers and enlisted per- 
sonnel, both men and women, be required 
to take regular leaves twice a year." 43 
There was on many stations also a certain 
reluctance to release women for any cause, 
even for officer candidate school, and 
Wacs were not eligible for the direct com- 
missions that men of equal qualifications 
received in certain duties, or for admission 
to Signal Corps Officer Candidate School. 
Even appropriate enlisted grades were 
chronically scarce; remarkably consistent 
complaints were received from stations all 
over the world that enlisted Wacs had re- 
placed men in top enlisted grades, or even 
officers and warrant officers, without re- 
ceiving any ratings at all. 

On restricted installations, particularly 
the several detachments of the 2d Signal 
Service Battalion, the situation was espe- 
cially difficult. Here a woman, once 
assigned, was a virtual prisoner for the 
duration; men might look for enforced ro- 
tation to overseas service, but even this 
was not permitted for a woman until after 
the end of the war. If a woman failed in or 
was unequal to technical duties, she was 
retained on the station in menial or service 
duties on the grounds that she "knew too 
much" to permit her to be released for 
proper assignment elsewhere. 

WAC inspectors reported that women 
for such installations should have been 
originally selected from volunteers who 
had been clearly informed of their pros- 

42 Conditions in The Three Women's Services. 

43 Sources cited [rT" 4 1 ,| 



320 



THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS 



pects, a method that was successful in 
other technical services. Instead, Signal 
Corps personnel went to Forts Des Moines 
and Oglethorpe and selected women who 
afterwards alleged that they had received 
promises of grades, overseas service, officer 
training, or "the glamor of working for in- 
telligence." Women recruited directly for 
the station were not informed of its re- 
stricted natur